The 2019 Cleveland Browns have been fascinating, if not enigmatic to watch this year. Expectations were maybe set too high given the new head coach and all the new moving parts this team had, but make no mistake; the Browns may have been the most disappointing team in the NFL this year. While differing reasons abound for why this happened, they all seem to circle back to one common theme: no leadership. If you need more evidence of that, take a look at Myles Garrett, a former number one overall pick, plunking a quarterback on the head with his helmet when there wasn’t even any time left in the game. Would a high-profile hire like Urban Meyer fix this problem?
Some of Cleveland’s players went on to actually say that much towards the end of the year, saying that they needed a guy they respect and that respects them and believes in them, and those pointed comments lead me to believe none of the players had that at any point with Freddie Kitchens.
Hiring Urban Meyer as the next head coach would be extremely high-risk, high-reward. On one hand, Cleveland is getting a proven leader of men, known for transforming two different programs (Florida, Ohio State) into absolute NFL-pipeline powerhouses. On the other hand, we all know how ugly his tenure with Ohio State ended, and he was even quoted after all that as saying, “I believe I will not coach again.”
This Browns team should be better. Top to bottom, they easily have a top-10 roster in terms of talent in the NFL. It’s easy to get caught up in how much potential this team would have with an intelligent mind like Urban Meyer, but how big of a gamble would this actually be?
No one has been able to return the Browns to relevancy in the AFC North. Seemingly no matter how good this team looks pre-season, they always find a way to mire themselves in mediocrity before the season is over. This will now be Baker Mayfield’s third head coach and third offensive coordinator in as many years. I haven’t heard many good stories about quarterbacks developing in the NFL when there’s that much of a coaching carousel around them.
If Cleveland decides to bring in Urban Meyer, they have to push all their chips to the middle of the table; they have to go absolutely all-in and sell out to let a guy like Mayfield succeed, something they did not do with Freddie Kitchens. Cleveland’s division rival Baltimore most recently did this with Lamar Jackson, and you’ve seen the results. Baltimore started from scratch and built their entire system around him and what he does well, and he’s now the front-runner for the MVP award. Arizona has also done this with Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury. They traded away the 1st round quarterback they took a year ago in Josh Rosen and brought in a coach intricately familiar with the system Murray used to run in Oklahoma, and they’ve begun to build their entire system around Murray and his strengths.
However, none of this works and is rendered irrelevant if the Browns don’t exhibit the one trait that Cleveland fans are probably sick of showing by now: Patience.
If you’re going to completely transform this perennial AFC North punching bag of a franchise into a contender, it won’t happen overnight. Even with all the talent Cleveland already has, this will be a process. Urban Meyer will have to come in and get his players to buy into the culture first, before they’ll have any on-field success. If Cleveland is serious about this move, they’ll hand Meyer the keys to the kingdom, and they will give him more than a 1-2 year timeline to establish himself and this team, a luxury that previous Browns coaches have not had.
This team has the talent to win the AFC North; that was never in question. But does this team have the maturity to do so? I guess we’ll find out. One thing that is not in question, however, is that once again this team will be fascinating to watch all throughout the offseason and leading up to the very first snap of the 2020 season.
Picture Source: CNN.com
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