Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Mid-week thoughts

 With Browns Nation caught up with excitement that has reached heights of downright giddiness in some sectors, many of those fans might not have noticed an important item has temporarily taken a back seat.

That is about to change.

An interim head coach and interim offensive coordinator are leading a team that has completely changed course in the last two months and become the talk of the National Football League.

Gregg Williams and Freddie Kitchens have done a remarkable job of completely changing the culture of the locker room, embracing the notion that the 2018 Cleveland Browns were really not as bad as they had performed in the first eight games of the season.

Once General Manager John Dorsey and owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam III removed the dys from the dysfunction that had strangled the team by removing Hue Jackson and Todd Haley, not many observers gave Williams and Kitchens much of a chance to succeed.

That obviously has changed with five victories in the last six games and a 5-2 overall record, resurrecting that other item of extreme importance.

Who will be the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns?

It has been a question that has burned ever so slightly the last couple of months following Jackson’s firing. But it has become a gigantic flame now that Williams and Kitchens have performed their little miracle.

Not so suddenly, many fans like what they have seen from Williams so much, they strongly suggest removing the interim from his title. Kitchens, too, considering how well he and rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield have bonded to make this the club’s best offense in many seasons.

Dorsey, who will eventually make the pick with (hopefully) solid support from the Haslams, undoubtedly hears the cries to keep Williams and Kitchens in their current roles and probably has already placed Williams’ name on the list to be interviewed.

Working against Williams is his less-than-sparkling record in his three-year stint as head coach of the Buffalo Bills many years ago. But, fans can argue, he is an entirely different coach now.

Starting Monday after the Browns conclude the season Sunday in Baltimore against the Ravens, the flag will drop and Dorsey will set out in earnest to make the important decision this franchise has seen in many years.

Why? Because finally after 20 seasons, the job as head coach of this team has become extremely attractive and should lure a strong field of candidates.

With young talents like Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, Jarvis Landry, Joe Schobert, Denzel Ward, Christian Kirksey, David Njoku and an above-average offensive line, the Browns have finally become not just relevant, but broach contending status.

Anyone seeking a head coaching job in the NFL would be foolish to wait for something better to come along because this just might be the most appealing job available this offseason.

Dorsey obviously is holding his cards nice and tight right now. He’s been around long enough to know what kind of coach will be best for this team, one he put together so sagaciously after two disastrous seasons.

It is entirely possible he already knows whom he wants, but will dutifully go through the entire process before revealing his choice.

It certainly won’t be as in the past when the Browns time and again failed to land a solid head coach – because who would want to come to Cleveland? – and had to settle for seconds, thirds and sometimes fourths.

That’s why you wind up with tier 3 and tier 4 head coaches like Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, Mike Pettine and, of course, Jackson. To a lesser extent, that list includes Romeo Crennel.

Speculation will run rampant for as long as the process lasts. Pay no attention to it. Consider it white noise because a vast majority of the rumors will be just that – rumors. Candidates will come and go amid the hoopla surrounding the selection process.

The final decision most likely will be announced right before Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3 in Atlanta unless Dorsey’s choice is coaching in that game or sooner if the choice’s team is eliminated early.

Also take into consideration this is the first time the GM has been in this position, so expect him to be very deliberate and careful that he makes the correct choice. He probably will seek advice from wise football men he has encountered along the path that led him to the Browns.

Time to buckle up, enjoy the season-ender Sunday and start the countdown to the next head coach.

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