The Cleveland Browns today fired their GM, Michael Lombardi. Assistant GM Ray Farmer will replace Lombardi whilst CEO Joe Banner will also step down from his role. Where does all this front office movement leave the Browns?
Well, they’re in a big mess.
Although it is not entirely unusual for bad teams to fire GM’s, Cleveland as usual seem to be doing it in a very unconventional way. Last season, the Browns hired Lombardi as GM along with Rob Chudzinski as head coach.
Front office moves as severe as this are usually rebuilding operations and this appeared to be case in Cleveland. However, the team did not draft a quarterback in 2013 preferring instead to go with a not so lethal mix of Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell.
The team unsurprisingly did not play well and traded running back Trent Richardson for a first round pick halfway through the season. The trade was smart. It got good value for a player that had proved unproductive; it was seen as an attempt for the Browns to tank, which they successfully did, securing the fourth pick in this year’s draft.
Where the Browns have fallen down here is in not sticking with the guys they have. After just a year, and precious little to work with, Chudzinski was fired and replaced eventually with the little-known Mike Pettine, formerly of the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. Now the Browns have essentially gotten rid of all the major leaders in their front office and do not look to have a clear path going forward.
Their roster is plainly not as good as most of the NFL; they ranked 27th out of 32 teams in total offense and were the sixth most scored on team in the past season. Their quarterbacks had a total of 26 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. In fact their punter, Spencer Lanning had a better rating than any starter at quarterback last season.
One bright spark for the team was the performance of Josh Gordon with 1,646 receiving yards. Joe Haden, Jordan Cameron, Alex Mack and Joe Thomas all accompanied Gordon to the Pro-Bowl.
The secret to success in the NFL is continuity. Bill Belichick has proven that in New England. The Browns should covet the opportunity to rebuild the franchise with two first round picks they could be well on the way to doing that. But the team have now had three head coaches and three GM’s in just 407 days.
The team will of course still have a chance to build through the draft and there is every chance that Famer and Pettine can form a successful alliance but with so much changing just months before the draft, it would seem that the Browns are already at a disadvantage.