COMMENTARY | Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam made some strides in making things right with disgruntled Browns on February 11.
On that day, Haslam announced that Browns CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi were on their way out in Cleveland. The dismissal of these two men is somewhat of an admission that former Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski was the fall guy for Cleveland's disappointing 4-12 season in 2013.
In firing Chudzinski, Cleveland burned their bridges with a coach that was energetic and wanted to take the team that he genuinely loved to the next level. Chudzinski never got a chance to do so, though, as reports swirled of a season-long power struggle between him and Cleveland's front office. The end result was an on-field disaster as Lombardi made no real effort to search for adequate replacements at quarterback and running back after injuries decimated the two positions last fall.
The book is now closed on the Banner-Chudzinski-Lombardi era in Cleveland, but the tumultuous 12 months that they were around won't soon be forgotten by Browns faithful.
Of course, this being the Browns, there are new issues that this team will have to deal with heading into 2014.
The Browns now have a head coach in Mike Pettine that Cleveland's new general manager, Ray Farmer, may not even be on board with. That's the result of Haslam letting Banner and Lombardi hang around long enough to conduct one of the most dysfunctional head-coaching searches in recent memory. If the thought even crossed Haslam's mind about cleaning house completely right after the close of the regular season, he should've just done it.
The dismissals of Banner and Lombardi might be the most popular move that Haslam has made since taking over the Browns in October 2012, but that needs to be the last personnel decision he makes for a while. Haslam seems keen on being an owner in the vein of Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, when in reality he should just take a step back and let the folks with NFL experience earn their money.
The Browns have plenty of picks in the 2014 NFL draft, and plenty of salary cap space to utilize in free agency this offseason. With six Pro Bowlers on the current roster, Cleveland is not as far away from respectability as their 2013 record might suggest. Here's hoping that Haslam does the right thing over the next few months by taking more of a hands-off approach, because otherwise we could be replaying this same tired situation 365 days from now.
Shaun Heidrick is a Yahoo Contributor who has followed the Cleveland Browns for over 25 years.
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