From an outside perspective, the Cleveland Browns seem dysfunctional. They’ve finished with a losing record in 12 of the last 13 seasons, they’ve gone 5-11 or worse in 10 of those seasons, they’ve had six head coaches since 2008, and they’ve routinely missed on quarterbacks in the draft.
If that’s not dysfunctional, what is?
So, is the environment in Cleveland fundamentally flawed? Is it conducive to winning?
“I would tell you that there’s a lot of good people,” former Browns general manager Ray Farmer said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “Outside views and not working someplace can definitely give you a jaded perspective. So I would say that there are good people, and when you have good people, that’s the beginnings of it. At that point, you got to allow those good people to take you where they can take you. From my perspective, I would say the environment to winning all gets started with consistency. The difference between good and great is consistency over time. You’ve got to give somebody time. You’ve got to give (general manager) Sashi Brown a chance to try to grow what they have in their minds and move it forward – but they got to have time to do it.”
Bill Belichick, in case you’ve forgotten, coached Cleveland from 1991-95. He went just 36-44 but did win a playoff game. In fact, the Browns haven’t won a playoff game since.
“Bill Belichick in Cleveland, it didn’t go right right away,” Farmer said. “He got a second opportunity and you see where it’s taken him. All of it kind of goes together. You got to have that time together to be able to move it forward.”
Farmer, who spent three years in Cleveland, was asked about Jimmy Haslam and what type of owner he is. Farmer responded “young.”
Haslam is 62 but is still relatively new as an owner, buying the franchise in 2012.
“There’s no manual,” Farmer said. “He’s learning how to be an owner the same way I was learning how to be a GM, and guys are learning their craft as they move into it. Jimmy wants to win. And here’s the interesting thing: Jimmy loves football. I can tell you he truly wants to win and he’s truly committed to putting his money where his mouth is, putting the resources up, doing the things necessary to help this club win. That’s where it starts. He’s passionate about it and he wants it to happen. From that perspective, he’s got to work with his team to get them where he wants them to go.”
Farmer, who drafted Johnny Manziel with the 22nd overall pick in 2014, was also asked about this year’s top quarterbacks, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. The Rams and Eagles traded numerous picks to move up in the draft, but is either quarterback really worth that kind of haul?
“You know what? I think that the position and the opportunity are what dictates the price,” Farmer said. “It’s not the player. You want the first overall pick? you’re going to give up a lot to get it. Draft picks are compensation. They are currency. How much currency does it take to move from one spot to the next? It’s like anybody else that’s selling something. They drive the price up and if you’re desperate or if you want that position bad enough, they’ll keep trying to push you and push you and push you to get that price as high as they can get it. But both of these young men, they’re talented. The question is, will they be put in environments that allow them to thrive and succeed at the next level? That’s the tenor and the balance of the National Football League. How do you put somebody in the position for them to have success? It’s not about your scheme. It’s not about what we do. It’s about your players – and if you put your players in good position to have success, they generally will.”