The Browns aren’t the worst team in the NFL. That’s not something that can be said very often, but it’s true — in 2018, the Browns might not even be one of the five worst teams in the league. Yet somehow, the Factory of Sadness is still the laughing stock of the NFL.
After the Browns pulled off the rare double mid-season firing of head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley, the Browns will — once again — be starting over in the offseason.
The Browns — with a ball-hawking talented defense and promising QB in Baker Mayfield — aren’t as far away from the playoffs as they usually are. In fact, the Brownies might be one of the more attractive landing spots for a prospective head coach and free agents.
But will the Browns ever not be, you know, the Browns?
Here are four ways for Cleveland to recover from yet another debacle.
1. Immediately Demote Gregg Williams Back to Defensive Coordinator
Promoting Williams — a lousy person who was suspended one season for BountyGate — should never be the leader of a young, impressionable team lost in the woods like the Browns are.
Williams is not a head coach. He proved that previously by being a terrible leader with the Buffalo Bills. He’s a defensive coordinator, and a pretty good one when he’s got talented players under him. Williams has done an admirable job turning Cleveland’s defense into a turnover machine, but he should stay defensive coordinator.
2. Hire Lincoln Riley or John Harbaugh
The Browns have their general manager, John Dorsey, locked up — so now they need someone to mold this talented collection of players into a winning team.
The most exciting option would be throwing tens of millions of dollars at Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley. Just 35, Riley is one of the most creative and innovative offensive minds alive. And you know who he coached — and turned into a Heisman Trophy winner — at OU? That’s right, Baker Mayfield.
He’s young and it could all turn ugly, but the duo of Riley and Baker for the next decade offers too much upside to pass up.
If the Browns want a more experienced leader to change the culture, then look no further than Ravens coach John Harbaugh. Harbaugh might not be the sexiest name, but he consistently gets more out of his team every year. The Super Bowl-winning coach could immediately right the ship in Cleveland.
3. Do Whatever Is Possible to Build Around Baker Mayfield
The Browns look like they have something special in Mayfield, but the No. 1 pick needs a lot more help around him.
What started as a group teeming with talent has now lost Josh Gordon and Carlos Hyde. The Browns desperately need another receiver to pair with Jarvis Landry, and improved play from the offensive line.
Building around Mayfield, and taking advantage of his cheap rookie contract, would set this team up for a future playoff run.
4. Convince Jimmy Haslam to Sell to Literally Anybody Who Has A Pulse
There are a lot of bad owners in sports, but the Browns owner might be the worst of the lot.
Failing to find the right leader of the franchise, Haslam should take the $3 billion he’d get from selling the Browns and do something else.
As long as Haslam is the owner, the Browns might never get it right.