When watching the Cleveland Browns cement themselves as clownish, mixed with a healthy dose of clueless, it becomes apparently obvious, maybe now more than ever, that just because you own or run a sports team, it doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing.
The Browns seemingly can’t get out of their own way because its owner seemingly can’t stay away. Couple that with a few consecutive decades of intense failure, drafting a quarterback No. 1, and hiring an unqualified coach, it was all too much for the Haslem family. Jimmy couldn’t help himself. He had to get involved.
This is what happens when you combine those things. Drafting a quarterback No. 1 is a lot of pressure. It immediately puts a timeline on your coach and your organization to get things done. It’s a lot even for organizations that have a degree of stability. In the Browns’ case, it was way too much. It sped up an organization that needed to slow down.
Baker Mayfield was good the second half of the season a year ago after then-General Manager John Dorsey fired coach Hue Jackson. New coach Freddie Kitchens came in, Mayfield started and expectations soared. That’s a lot and it happened in a hurry. No one’s saying Mayfield wasn’t ready to be a starter, but Kitchens certainly wasn’t ready to be a coach.
Stable organizations don’t put people like Kitchens in charge. Stable organizations also don’t have owners involved in meddling with every on-field decision. And when you draft a quarterback No. 1 as an unstable organization it’s a chemical experiment usually doomed for failure.
Now, spin it forward to this year’s draft. The Cincinnati Bengals are a bit different. Known as one of the cheapest in the business, the Bengals aren’t one to make changes quickly. If Cincy was Cleveland, the Bengals would have likely fired first-year coach Zac Taylor. But remember, Cincy kept Marvin Lewis around a long time (16 seasons). It isn’t an organization that does things wildly. That being said, the Bengals should stay away from drafting Joe Burrow No. 1. Go get Chase Young, or better yet, trade the top pick and go find another quarterback later in the draft. Don’t put a bunch of pressure on a top pick to not only play immediately for a struggling team, but to have success immediately for a struggling team.
Speaking of Marvin Lewis, apparently the Cowboys have contacted the former Bengal coach about their vacancy.
I like it. A lot.
Lewis is wildly underrated and generally considered a failure. But he isn’t. Not even close. Lewis went 8-8 or better in 10 of 16 seasons in Cincy. That’s an accomplishment, especially with Andy Dalton as your quarterback for a good number of years.
Now, Lewis and the Bengals never won a playoff game, but they got there seven times. That’s also an accomplishment, especially in a division that has stability (Pittsburgh) and success (Baltimore), not to mention, two coaches who have been there a long time.
That’s fairly remarkable for a franchise like Cincinnati. How good was Lewis? In the five seasons before Lewis took over, Cincy went 19-61. Lewis began coaching the Bengals in 2003. Go back a bit longer. Cincy hadn’t been to the playoffs since 1990. Sam Wyche was the coach.
Also, an underrated aspect of Lewis in Cincy is the players he’s dealt with. Sure, Carson Palmer was good at quarterback and there was some talent, but he also had a circus in shoulder pads with arguably the best player of the Lewis tenure – Chad Johnson. Vontaze Burfict also was a headache and cost the Bengals a playoff game with a personal foul. Lewis has had some serious personalities to deal with, that’s for sure. He also wasn’t in Pittsburgh or Baltimore or a Green Bay or any number of organizations that are considered stable. Lewis was smooth sailing in the middle of choppy waters.
That’s what makes me think he could Jerry Jones, not to mention Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. The Cowboys could do a lot worse.