Browns change course, but problems are sure to continue

When the Browns fired Vice President Sashi Brown Thursday, it was something of a confession.

After all the talk about the importance of continuity, about believing in analytics as some kind of organizational philosophy, owner Jimmy Haslam decided to change course.


Haslam was basically admitting that, yes, he got it wrong again, and, yes, patience isn’t really his thing. It’s doubtless that Brown is disappointed, but he can take solace in the fact that he’s not alone. Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi and Ray Farmer would be there to welcome him in the “Quickly Fired By Jimmy Haslam” club.

It was a head-spinning day for Browns fans. Within 12 hours, fans learned that Brown was fired, that coach Hue Jackson was to return next season, and then that former Chiefs General Manager John Dorsey was hired to be the Browns GM.

Credit for speed, if nothing else. Given the University of Tennessee’s botched head coaching search (which Haslam also was involved in), I was concerned the Browns wouldn’t have a personnel department in place until at least May.

And in a big surprise, the hire of Dorsey makes a great deal of sense. Dorsey cut his teeth in Green Bay under legendary personnel man Ron Wolf. He spent the last four seasons in Kansas City, working with coach Andy Reid to turn the Chiefs into a yearly playoff contender.

He was fired from that job in June because … well no one’s entirely sure. Dorsey expertly dodged the question in Friday’s press conference, pointing to the Browns and the future.

Dorsey is an impressive hire, I’ll admit. But the warning signs for the latest Browns reboot are already there, and already glaring.

In the last two years, Haslam used a structure in which Brown and Jackson each reported to him. So, essentially, Brown had no authority over his coach, which appeared to create an atmosphere in which each valued power, not cohesion.

Friday, Haslam said the structure is not changing. Dorsey reports to Haslam. Jackson reports to Haslam. Paul DePodesta — the analytics-heavy chief strategy officer — reports to Haslam.

So who — besides Haslam himself — has the most power?

Jackson and Dorsey have never worked together. Jackson also has a glorious 1-27 record in his coaching tenure.

I’m not sure how Haslam has come to believe Dorsey and Jackson will click. As a Browns fan, I hope they do, but “hope” is all I have in this circumstance. Usually, when a GM comes in, he wants his own people. We have seen this a few times in Cleveland. When Mike Holmgren was in charge, he kept the coach from the previous regime — Eric Mangini — for a season. Then he fired him and brought in Pat Shurmur as coach. Then Banner came in, fired Shurmur and hired Rob Chudzinski. And on and on.

So, I don’t expect the Jackson-Dorsey union to last any more than a year, if that.

As for Brown, well, it’s hard to justify the record. Brown stockpiled picks and cap room, which is probably why Dorsey so eagerly agreed to take over.

But no matter what happens from here, Brown will likely be remembered for passing on quarterback Carson Wentz in the draft. Instead, Brown traded the No. 2 overall pick to Philadelphia.

The Eagles are now a Super Bowl contender.

The Browns have one win since December of 2015.

But really, all the changes leave me indifferent. It doesn’t matter who the bosses are, who the coach is, or how many press conferences we have to listen to.

All that matters — to me, anyway — is that the Browns don’t have anymore seasons like the past three.

The last three years have taught me the value of a 4-12 season. Yes, the teams were terrible, but at least we could be happy four Sundays in the fall.

It’s really a low standard.

But that’s what the Browns have reduced me to.

Zach Baker is the sports editor for The Advertiser-Tribune.

Contact him at: or on Twitter @Zachthewriter