While there have been reports that embattled Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam will be allowing general manager John Dorsey a wide berth to oversee their latest coaching search, there remains trepidation by many in the coaching community about that process and the repeated failings of that organization.
The job – generally open every couple of years after the Haslams assumed control of the team in 2012 – is certainly a much more appealing prospect than in years past, with the roster much improved and Baker Mayfield looking like a potential franchise quarterback. But the Haslams' reputation in coaching circles precedes them, their past searches have often taken strange turns and the family has been increasingly hands-on during its ownership, which has many wondering about who will ultimately select the next coach.
Even within the Browns building, there is still some skepticism about how the process will unfold. When the Haslams hired Jackson, for instance, in 2016, they did so against the wishes and counsel of virtually their entire football operations staff, sources said. They had added analytics expert Paul DePodesta to the fold and, along with then-GM Sashi Brown and some other analytics experts, the Haslams put together a criteria and process to identify their next head coach.
Sean McDermott, current Bills coach, was the overwhelmingly popular choice by everyone involved in the process. The data they used, as well the other elements of the criteria set up at the start of the process, all pointed to McDermott, a highly-regarded defensive coordinator with Carolina at the time.
Sources said Brown and DePodesta both made impassioned attempts to dissuade the Haslams from not following that process and going with Jackson, instead. Jackson went on to become, statistically, the worst head coach in modern NFL history with a 3-36-1 mark (.080 winning percentage). Under a prior regime, a lengthy and expensive quarterback analysis, as well as the old-school scouting work done in the process, pointed to Cleveland using a first-round pick on Teddy Bridgewater in 2014; Haslam, sources said, spearheaded support for troubled Johnny Manziel (eight career NFL starts), who the Browns selected 22nd overall, 10 picks ahead of Bridgewater.
Hence the need for the Browns to give every indication that things will be different this time around, and that Dorsey will be running the operation. To this point, no head coach under the Haslams has won more than 10 games (Mike Pettine, 2014-2015), and Pettine is the only Browns coach in that time to win more than five total games. Time will tell if 2019 is truly different.