Adrian Horning's Blog

Hue might be gone, but the Browns will still suck

November 02, 2018

As a native of Northeast Ohio, I have been a Browns fan my whole life and want them to do well.

I feel like with every new coach, or new players being brought in, there is an unrealistic optimism that comes upon all Browns fans (myself included).

But I think there is only ONE thing, that will change the Browns’ fortunes:

A Competent Owner

Here are the reasons why:

  • The leader (owner) is ultimately responsible for the success of his/her team
  • What has been the ONLY consistent thing during the many years of terrible seasons?
  • Successful teams have competent, invested owners
  • Players really don’t make a huge difference in the NFL

Breakin it Down

The Leader is Ultimately Responsible

This is pretty straightforward. Ultimately, the buck stops with the leader. There is always something a leader can do to improve his/her team.

If one of their subordinates doesn’t perform well, it is up to them to coach them up, give them training, or ultimately find someone who can do the job. This is simply being accountable for what you have stewardship over.

Browns owners seem to be able to pick the worst coaches/executives around them.

Or, the coaches/executives can’t thrive under the incompetent owner’s leadership.

That being said, Haslam seems like he is headed in the right direction with hiring Dorsey.

Obviously, the team he helped put together in Kansas City looks like one of the best teams in the NFL now. But the next coach or 2 will tell if Haslam was right.

The Only Consistent Thing Since 1999

What has been the only consistent thing since 1999?

That’s right, the owners.

Let me list who the owners have been since the Browns came back into the league in 1999:

  • Al Lerner (12–36)
  • Randy Lerner (56–104)
  • Jimmy Haslam (22–81)

Each has had an average of 3 head coaches. …and let’s not get into how many players each had…

So it’s hard for me to blame players or coaches when there is someone above them, and who has been there longer.

Incompetent Owners

The Browns simply have had incompetent owners.

As much as I hate the guy, Art Modell had a lot of success with the Browns/Ravens when he owned the respective teams.

This guy seemed like who knew what the hell he was doing.

The new Browns owners though….

2 out of the 3 owners just inherited their money from their daddy’s (Randy L. and Haslam). They never built up an organization or rose to the top based on their own hard work, leadership, or organizational management skills.

In fact, in 2013, many executives at Haslam’s company were nailed by the FBI because they were involved in fraud.

Haslam is not the president of the organization, and he wasn’t charged, but still, his family runs the company, and does it sound like a well-run company?

Invested Owners

Good owners, need to be deeply invested in winning, not just owning a team because it’s a good financial investment. And sadly it seems like the last 2 Browns owners don’t really give a damn about the team.

For example, Haslam himself said that he is a “1,000 percent” Steelers fan.

Not only that, Haslam (Tennessee native) badly wanted to purchase the Tennessee Titans, but the Browns just became available sooner.

In fact, when the time comes he might swap them for the Titans.

So is it plausible that home boy could care less about Cleveland/NE Ohio and was just thirsty to own an NFL team?

You bet.

Let’s take a look at these other franchises that have had long-term success. Why have they had so much success? You tell me:

  • Steelers | Rooney Family
  • Patriots | Robert Kraft
  • Cowboys | Jerry Jones
  • 49ers | Edward J. DeBartolo Jr.

And because the tradition of losing is so ensconced in Cleveland, I feel like it’s going to take some serious tenacity to get back to winning.

And it’s going to take someone who embraces the city of Cleveland, the great fans there, and the challenges of trying to win there.

Players Don’t Really Matter

Honestly, I think the players matter less than who the coaches/executives are.

Some quick examples:

  • Bill Belichick | Doesn’t matter the personnel, he is always very consistent. For example, remember when Brady was suspended in 2016 because of Deflategate? The Patriots didn’t miss a beat.
  • Sean McVay | Takes a team from 4–12 to 11–5, with basically the same roster.
  • …how many Top 10 picks have the Browns had?

Not to say that the players don’t matter at all, it’s just that the NFL is unique among other sports in that the strategy, scheme, and plays have a tremendous impact on the game.

And there isn’t a huge talent gap in the league. Each team has the best of the best football players on the planet.

So I would contend that prepared coaches will beat more talented teams any day.

And consider this: if a coach doesn’t prepare, what can a player do about it?

But if a player doesn’t prepare, what can a coach do about it?


Maybe Haslam IS the owner. He can still turn it around. He finally seems to have landed on a GM that he really wanted and seems solid. If Dorsey can put together a team like the Chiefs, then maybe the dawn of winning is just on the horizon.

But if the next coach or 2 fail, then I wouldn’t get my hopes up for anything until we get another owner. Ultimately I think for Cleveland to get back to winning, it needs one of its (competent) own to step up and purchase the Browns and turn them around.

Easier said than done.