It’s no secret that National Football League franchises, like the Cleveland Browns, historically have their most success when keeping stability in their front office and coaching staff. The concept is pretty self-explanatory, as the more time a person holds a job, the better grasp on it they will eventually have. While there are exceptions to that rule, as we all know that one person at work that just doesn’t seem to “get it,” for the majority of people, practice makes perfect.
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The NFL, and professional sports franchises in general, are no different. In the case of the Cleveland Browns throughout history, the majority of their success has come in the third or fourth year of a coach’s tenure.
Recently, from 2005 through 2008, former head coach, Romeo Crennel, was the last man in charge of a successful season, but it certainly wasn’t in the beginning. In 2005, Crennel posted a 6-10 record, followed by a disappointing 4-12 season. If fan opinion were running the show, that would have prompted his dismissal, but he immediately followed it up with a strong 10-6 record, the most successful season (in terms of wins) of the Browns expansion era to date. We all know the story from here, Crennel goes 4-12 in 2008 and the circus pulls out of town again.
Fast forward to 2009, Eric Mangini gets two seasons and posts back-to-back 5-11 years—fired. Pat Shurmur goes 4-12 and 5-11—fired. Rob Chudzinski impressively only gets one season, posts a 4-12 record, and again—fired. Now, we are on to Mike Pettine with a 7-9 record last season and a 2-7 start in the 2015 season, and here we sit debating his dismissal.
When will the Cleveland Browns learn?
The last double-digit winning season the Browns had before Crennel was in 1994. Led by Bill Belichick, Cleveland posted an 11-5 record, but again, it didn’t start out that way. In years one, two and three of his tenure, Belichick posted records of 6-10, 7-9 and 7-9, it wasn’t until year four in 1994 that he broke through.
Noticing a trend, yet? We can keep going.
Before that, Marty Schottenheimer took over for Sam Rutigliano in 1984 to combine for a 5-11 record. He followed that up with an 8-8 record. In years three, four and five? He posted three consecutive double-digit winning seasons of 12-4, 10-5 and 10-6. Of course, that didn’t help in him not getting fired, but it certainly had nothing to do with his success rate.
That brings us to 1980, when Rutigliano went 11-5 in his third season—but, I’ll save you the rest of the story. I feel like it’s safe to say that you should get the point by now, looping us back around to the current Browns in 2015. It’s certainly frustrating to be sitting at 2-7, after just one year ago today, knocking on the door of the NFL playoffs with a 6-3 record. The reality is, however, is that the Cleveland Browns made a decision when they hired Pettine, and they now need to see it through to the end.
Two seasons does not dictate the success or failure of a coach, we have seen it throughout history, and there is no reason to believe Pettine is any exception. In 10 years, the Browns have had five general managers, two owners and five head coaches—it has to stop.
The Browns, even amid their losses, have shown fight and resolve til the end these past two seasons. The team needs to keep and actively develop the talent they have, make smart decisions and above all else, they need to find their quarterback. Until that happens, the simple reality is that it really will not matter who the coach is, who the general manager is or even who the owner is. Everything in Cleveland that leads to success will start with stability, and if history is any indication, we are halfway there.