Three Offseason Goals for the 2014 Cleveland Browns:
Under owner Jimmy Haslam’s watch, the Cleveland Browns have hired and fired Rob Chudzinski and gone 4 – 12 in the process. A few months ago, Haslam also hired Alec Scheiner to help with construction with First Energy Stadium during the offseason and the upgrading up uniforms (to be implemented in 2015). However, fans care more about the on-the-field product; therefore the front office of the Cleveland Browns must accomplish three important goals this offseason in order to drastically improve this franchise. These three are identifying and constructing an identity, getting the team in the national spotlight, and improving the psyche of the fan base.
Create an Identity – Now: Throughout the 2013 campaign, the Cleveland Browns never really distinguished themselves from other NFL franchises. Looking within their division, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers are known for their hard-nosed defense with a ball-controlled offense. Since returning to the league in 1999, the Browns have never been able to distinguish themselves, and owner Jimmy Haslam must change that (as soon as possible). Two correct acquisitions can accelerate this process.
– Head Coach: The Browns must hire a passionate, assertive leader who can get his point across and, more importantly, get the most from his players – including respect. Personality is rather important, but the next coach does not have to necessarily be a brash or loud guy. I would like for him to be boisterous in press conferences and prideful in his job. It’s hard to argue against Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll creating positive influences on previously mediocre franchises.
– Quarterback: There’s no doubt that this front office understands the importance of this position and having “the guy”; a talented, face of the franchise for many years. Right now, it appears that there are three guys that could be drafted by the Cleveland Browns with the fourth selection (Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, and Blake Bortles). The front office must evaluate them properly by utilizing all due diligence before the May draft. Following that, supporting this guy on and off the field (via offensive personnel and advertising/marketing, etc.) will help the team collect some buzz around the league.
Garner National Attention: Over the past year, the owner and his wife have come up with a program to get the franchise on cable television. Travel Channel’s “NFL Road Tested: The Cleveland Browns” aired in the fall of 2012; however, while it gave viewers an in-depth look of the locker room – the team’s exposure increased only marginally. Getting primetime (Sunday and Monday Night Football) contests next season begin with drafting exciting athletes, but those only become regular occurrences with success.
Helping Fans’ Psyche with Positivity: This last goal is the most difficult one to accomplish, especially for a team who has just two winning seasons in the past fifteen years. Some factions of the fan base are bitter, frustrated, and/or upset (even leaning towards apathy). Converting these people could take time, but any thing that could help should be executed. The Browns have already begun changes (like the aforementioned stadium and apparel upgrades) and have been fairly transparent with the media and fans, in terms of providing and explaining the franchise’s course of action. However, genuinely believing in the new guys (whether its coaches or players) could improve the mindsets of Browns’ fans more rapidly.