Luckily my work schedule allowed me to see the press conference today with our owner Jimmy Haslam and his CEO Joe Banner. As sports fans we have the right to scream, cry, and whine about how we are wronged by our teams and lets face it NO ONE has earned the right more then Cleveland fans.
I was never a fan of the hiring of Pat Shurmer, so it was easy for me to see him go. I thought it was completely insane for all you fellow fans calling in to sports radio shows for support of Pat during the 3 game win streak. Those were 3 games we were supposed to win, period. Big picture Pat was not dealt a favorable hand when he took this job but he knew what he was walking into. From my perspective the team was playing hard for the new owner and not the coach but if these players would truly run through walls for Pat he will get another shot and I wish him nothing but success(except of course when he is playing the Browns).
So why am I confident that the Haslam era will be more successful even if they don't land #1 on my wish list, who is Gruden. They have clearly decided that the main attribute our new coach must bring is winning. They are not looking for an offensive or defensive guy, NFL or college, prior HC experience or an up and comer, no they want a winner, and that is what we need. They are going to get the best talent they can and build around that instead of forcing someone to fit their style and if that is the culture that is created then hopefully the coach will coach the same way. No more shoving a square peg into a round hole, game plan around your rosters strengths and you can be a consistent winner.
That is why I do not want and hope we do not hire Chip Kelly. Sure I am worried that he has as much experience as an NFL employee that I have but what I am fearful of is his success at Oregon is based on his system of score, score, and score. I do not think that will translate well to the NFL, maybe a year or two but not sustained success. With our history here a Phoenix Suns type run under D'Antonio might appeal to some fans but not to me. I don't want playoff runs I want the Superbowl runs. College coaches with no NFL experience scare me, yeah I wanted Harbaugh a few years ago and I still think Bob Stoops would have made that jump successfully but those are the exceptions in my opinion, far fewer actually succeed.
My wish list, yeah Nick Sabans on it. Sure his go around in Miami didn't set the world on fire, but neither did Belichicks first stint as an NFL coach, if your reading this you remember it. He has been successful at more then one stop. He quickly succeeded at Toledo, turned around Michigan State, and has won national titles at two different schools. If he is willing to have strong influence over roster and not total control of football operations, it is hard to argue against that resume. That is why he is #2 on my list.
Number one on my wish list is Jon Gruden. I think he will fit the "flexible evolving" culture it seems Haslam and Banner are trying to create. Lets look at his past. Working in an environment not used to winning, check, he got the Raiders to the AFC championship while Al Davis was running the team. Winning with a team he didn't help build, check, remember his Bucs team beat the Raiders team he helped build. Understands the strife of us northeast Ohio fans, check, I have to believe he would love to raise the Lombardi trophy for the franchise he was born just one hour away from. Yes I know his record was slightly above .500 at Tampa but lets not forget that we are talking about a franchise that has a lifetime winning% of .367 when they have anyone other then Jon Gruden as their Head coach. Trust me you don't want to know that number if you subtract Tony Dungy's tenure from there as well (ok fine it's .277).
Mr Haslam do not listen to me though, your are 100% right, bring in a coach who will win and we will embrace him. The team in Black and Gold has won playoff games with two different coaches and O'Donnell, Stewart, and Big Ben at qb, since we last won a playoff game. Their coaches did not force a style on them they made sure their team played to their strenghts and that is why they are a consistent winner. So even if I scream, cry, and whine when you announce the next coach if it's not my #1 choice, pick the man who will fit the culture you want to create. Under your ownership I fully expect an 8-8 season to be a down year instead of a beacon of hope that it would have been since 99. I am not going to wish you luck, instead let you know that Cleveland trusts you, so plan your work and work your plan and success will follow.