It is all about moving forward and winning football games in the NFL.
Despite competing in several of their losses, going 4-12, losing 10 of their last 11 games, including their last seven after starting the year 4-5 and being in second place in the AFC North Division at the bye week proved to owner Jimmy Haslam and chief executive officer Joe Banner that a coaching change was again necessary.
The Browns relieved coach Rob Chudzinski of his duties with the team, and will immediately begin their search for Cleveland's 15th full-time head coach.
“As the season developed after what was a really nice start, and as we got later into the season, it was our feeling that, as a team, we were not getting better,” Haslam said. “Yes, we had a young team, but if we reflect on it, we would all say a young team should get better and we simply didn’t feel like that was happening.
“We said numerous times that continuity was really important to any organization, and we still feel that. We understand why there might be some skepticism. We understand the importance of continuity, but I think it’s really important that you hear this: ‘We also understand the importance of getting it right.’ In our estimation, we were best to go ahead and make a change, try to get it right so that we can move forward and most importantly, give the fans here the kind of winner they deserve.”
Banner said he felt the team’s trajectory of improving was sloping downward as the team lost 10 of its last 11 games by an average of more than 10 points, including six losses to teams who did not qualify for the postseason.
“In our minds, there should be improvement happening at whatever level you may assess the team or the talent,” Banner said. “As you go through the season, you see teams get better. Sometimes, they’re not very good teams and they get better. Sometimes, they’re the best teams in the league. It was concerning to us that that wasn’t happening and left us feeling like the best thing to do was to make a change.
“I think the improvement that should be happening during the season, regardless of the talent level that you’re at, is something that you have to be able to see, and it’s something that’s happening on many of the rosters with a first-year head coach.”
With 2013’s 4-12 finish, the Browns finished with double-digit losses for the sixth straight season, and according to Haslam, he is focused on changing the fortunes of the franchise for the better.
“There’s nothing that galls me more than to read on Monday mornings, ‘Same old Browns’ because that’s not what we’re all about,” Haslam said. “That’s not what we came here for. You have a right to be skeptical, and until we turn it around, start winning games and start winning important games and playing meaningful games late in the year, and be sitting up here this time of year talking about who we’re going to play in the first round of the playoffs, you have every right to be skeptical.
“We deserve the skepticism. We accept it. It is what it is. We have to prove to you all that we’ll get the right guy. We’re confident we can do that, but until that individual comes in here and wins football games, talk is cheap. Actions speak loud, and we’re confident we can do that.”