CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Last year the Browns were hip-deep in this exact same process, hiring a head coach. It was one of the many times they were committed to “getting it right.” They didn’t. They got it wrong. More wrong than maybe ever before. Freddie Kitchens was arguably the worst head coach they have had since returning in 1999.
We do not know exactly what would have happened if they had hired the reported first choice of Paul DePodesta, Minnesota offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, but we may still get to find out.
I do know one thing- he was spot on when he did not recommend Kitchens and seems to have also been correct when in 2016 he pushed for Sean McDermott. McDermott has guided Buffalo to two playoff appearances in the last three years.
Maybe it’s time to listen to DePodesta?
The Browns have reportedly put him in charge of the hire. That’s great. But will they follow through? Or is Jimmy Haslam going to over-rule him at the 11th hour and go with the guy that tickles his fancy. Granted, last year he over-ruled him to hire the guy that tickled John Dorsey’s fancy, but Haslam has done it before to hire the guy that swooned him. How do you think Hue Jackson got here? Still, the Kitchens hire may have been a sign of progress for Haslam. I’ll come back to that.
If they hire Stefanski this time we can assume that Haslam got out of the way and let his Chief Strategy Officer do some Chief Strategizing.
If they hire Josh McDaniels, or anybody else, we can either assume that DePodesta liked one of them more than Stefanski (perhaps they weren’t in play to compete against him last year?) or that he was Haslamed. Yes, the Browns owner is now a verb.
If it’s the former, great. If it’s the latter, why is he here?
I’ve got to think at some point DePodesta asked the same question, at the very least to himself. What’s the point of him being a highly paid sounding board with a really neat title if they are not going to take his recommendations? At least on coaching?
“The baseball guy,” as he has been called, is not without error. He was the one that guided them away from drafting Carson Wentz, saying he would not be a top-20 quarterback in the NFL. I don’t care what he played like this year, there are not 20 guys in the league you would rather have than Wentz.
But when it has come to coaching hires his batting average is outstanding. He was right on McDermott. He was right on Kitchens. He might still be right on Stefanski, his name is still out there in league circles as a guy on the rise.
If DePodesta is allowed to make this hire it would be two hires in row where Haslam stayed out of the way. The Kitchens hire was Dorsey, Haslam let him do it, but he listened to his GM’s recommendation. This time the hire would be DePodesta’s.
If Haslam can do that, two straight hires without injecting himself too much into the decision, then that is legitimate progress for Browns ownership. Stay in your lane. Let the people you hire do your jobs. If DePodesta is ignored again and the owner makes the call, then it might be time to the let the baseball guy go back to baseball, or wherever he wants to go, because you are not letting him help you here.