Last year was an even year, so it was inevitable that the “new” Browns would fire their head coach. After all, it happened in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2010. And, sure enough, yesterday the Browns gave the boot to Perplexed Pat Shurmur as well as General Manager Tom Heckert.
I’m not defending Shurmur. His record stank — 9-23 is putrid even by the awful standards the Browns have achieved since they returned to the league in 1999 — and I thought he was overmatched by head coaching duties. Shurmur’s bad game management decisions, weird use of personnel, and other failings showed he just does not have the unique skill set that successful NFL head coaches possess. This season’s end-of-the-year collapse sealed his fate.
I’m sorry to see Heckert go, however. He seemed to have a good eye for spotting NFL-grade talent — and, as the Browns’ laughable draft performance since 1999 shows, that’s not a capability to be sniffed at. Thanks to Heckert, the Browns are stocked with a number of young players who look like they have real potential. The Browns obviously are missing a few pieces, but progress on the personnel front definitely was made. I don’t think Heckert will be easy to replace.
Mostly, though, I greeted the story about the Browns’ housecleaning with a shrug. It’s hard to care passionately about the Browns, with their consistently bad performance, perennial late-season stumbles, and constant coaching changes. The Browns organization demands a lot from the team’s loyal fan base and never delivers any reward. It’s exhausting and deeply frustrating to be a Browns Backer, and it’s hard to maintain the necessary level of commitment.
Every few years the Browns franchise brings in a new regime, promises dramatic improvement, and then repeats its past failures. The Browns’ new owner, Jimmy Haslam, promises a careful search for a new coach and GM who will establish stability and bring long-term success. I’m not going to get too excited about it. I’m tired of new hires that are oversold as saviors; I just want some competent hard-working people who will stop my team from being viewed as the punch line to a league-wide joke.