This wasn't where Jimmy Haslam expected to be to start the new year. He acknowledged that right away at his Thursday press conference.
Still, the Browns owner viewed the decisions to relieve Freddie Kitchens of his head coaching duties and mutually part ways with general manager John Dorsey as necessary moves to get the franchise in a better position to deliver for "the best fans in the world."
"I think patience and continuity are good as long as you think you have the right people in place," Haslam said Thursday during a break from the team's interview with former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy.
"We just did not feel like we had the right people in place to move forward like we would like to. Believe me, this kind of change is hard. It is not something we wanted to do. I think I started out by saying it is certainly not something we are proud of, but it is something we are determined to get right this time."
The Browns have begun that process by embarking on a head coach search that will directly dovetail into a search for a new general manager. The new coach will be a part of that search as the Browns strive for better alignment between coaching and personnel.
Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta will be the leader of the Browns' search process. The committee will be made up of Dee and Jimmy Haslam, Executive Vice President and Owner J.W. Johnson and Vice President of Football Administration Chris Cooper.
Both the coach and general manager will report to ownership as equals and be "obviously married up with each other," Haslam said. Asked if Kitchens and Dorsey were aligned together, Haslam said, "I think we can always do better."
"I think everybody talks a lot about structure – and I think structure is important – but I think far more important are these two things: getting the right people and making sure they are aligned," Haslam said. "If you looked at the other 31 teams, there are all kinds of different structures, but if you look at the successful organizations that are consistently in the playoffs year after year, there is alignment within the organization and they have the right people in the right place – coach and GM.
"That is what we are focusing on tremendously, and that alignment is something that is really, really important. It sounds easy, but it is not."
Haslam and the Browns, of course, have been in this position before. Too many times for their liking. That's why Haslam was reluctant to guarantee anything with the upcoming searches, but his confidence was high in how the committee plans to reach its important decisions.
"Having learned from our past mistakes, we are more determined than ever to get that right this time," Haslam said. 'That is why we decided to go head coach first and then GM so that the head coach could be involved in that process. Listen, there are no guarantees – you know that – but hopefully, we will have learned from our past mistakes and do a much better job.
"We realize that we have had a tremendous amount of change since we bought the team. We accept responsibility. At the same time, we are more determined than ever to get it right for the Browns, the players and for the great fans of the Cleveland Browns, which we have the best fans, I believe, in the world."