Cleveland Browns general manager, Ray Farmer, returned to his post in Berea on Monday after serving a four-game suspension for texting the sidelines during a game last season. Some, including this writer, felt he was trying to micromanage his team’s quarterback play from the press box, via those text messages last season.
While Farmer was gone, the backbone of his team has disappointed immensely. Sporting the second highest paid defense in the league, the Browns have given up 102 points to their opponents in their first four games. They have relinquished more yards than any other team in the league, and are now 1-3 after playing what many consider the easiest portion of their schedule.
To make matters worse, Farmer’s first-round draft picks continue to disappoint.
The Browns secondary was short two cornerbacks going into Sunday’s game, and special teams ace/defensive back depth Johnson Bademosi received playing time over 2014 8th overall pick, Justin Gilbert. Johnny Manziel showed improvement when he lead the team to their sole victory, only to be benched because the coaches felt strongly that a 13-year veteran, who is 1-14 in his last 15 games(17-35 lifetime), gave them a better chance to win.
Farmer’s first first-round pick from the 2015 NFL draft, Danny Shelton, has started in the middle of a defense that ranks 31st against the run. This is just one year removed from finishing dead last against the run last season. It is safe to say he is not making the difference they had hoped at this point.
His other first-round pick is a backup offensive lineman. Cameron Erving was drafted under the premise that he could replace Alex Mack next season. How that’s a priority over an offensive weapon is baffling.
The Browns front office did however address wide receiver in free agency, when he let a clearly washed up Dwayne Bowe get $9 million guaranteed over two seasons. Bowe has yet to catch a pass in four games, and has been targeted twice. Farmer was clearly fleeced by the veteran, who was able to get a nice fat cash grab on his way out of the league.
Farmer has spewed nothing but GM speak since he got the job in Cleveland. He has taken an absurdly arrogant approach, that he and head coach Mike Pettine can win without playmakers. He has refused to draft wide receivers, and even (reportedly) kept the news of WR Josh Gordon‘s suspension from his coaching staff during Day 1 of the 2014 Draft, presumably the best time to replace a dynamic offensive player like that.
Farmer believes he can do it differently than everyone else in the league, and now doesn’t have a leg to stand on as his expensive defense is worse than his cheap offense. He built a team to win by stopping the run on defense and running the ball on offense. They cannot do either.
What happened To Coach Pettine?
The worst part is that I really thought the Browns had found the right guy to coach this team. At some point between the end of last season and training camp this year, Pettine changed and doesn’t appear to be the same guy.
He ran a country club training camp that lacked any intensity. Players who wanted a hamstring issue, got one, and proceeded to ride stationary bikes while sporting sun hats and iPods for six weeks.
He is lacking any emotion or fire, despite a complete absence of energy from his team at times. There is something to be said for being even keel, but at some point the fans need to know the coach is still with them.
Since when are the Browns in a position to choose how they want to win? If Manziel makes plays that help you win a game, in this writer’s opinion, you can’t sit him down because your coaching staff didn’t draw it up that way.
Everybody says that the Browns need the general manager and coach on the same page. Not this GM, keep Pettine as far away from Farmer as possible. I swear he has rubbed off on him, and it has caused the Browns coach to change.
Farmer should be done in Cleveland. There is no set of circumstances that allow him to justify the moves he has made, and the picks he has wasted. There is no way he should get the keys to the 2016 NFL Draft. He is a dead man walking.
I thought Pettine had a chance to see year three, but something has to change fast or this thing is going to get blown up again, and it should. I am all for continuity, but the Browns won’t win with guys that think they are smarter than everyone else. It’s not about reinventing the wheel, it is football, it is the NFL. You need guys that can throw, run and catch. No more Egos. Just get football players.