Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – If you believe the forecast, it looks like the winds of change are about to blow through the Cleveland Browns once again.
In what is becoming a bi-annual tradition, some players are bracing for what they know is about to come while trying to prepare to finish the season strong.
Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson is trying not to think about the rumors and speculation about another front office and coaching staff housecleaning but it’s hard to tune out what is everywhere.
“From within the locker room right now I would be chasing a ghost,” Jackson said. “I’m very aware of the situation. Things may change early, who knows. I’ve been down this path before.”
Even though CEO Joe Banner said Tuesday that no decisions have been made, it is expected that both general manager Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur will not be back in 2013.
Jackson, who was drafted by the Browns in the second round in 2006, is hopeful that he won’t see a third head coach and his staff dismissed within the next 2 weeks.
“That’s been the majority of my career, every couple of years there’s a new regime,” Jackson said. “It’s a bottom line business. You’ve got to win in this business and we all understand it. The players have a responsibility just as the coaches [do]. If we’re not doing what we’re supposed to do, you find someone else.
“I think that if this staff and this organization can stay together I think next year we’ll definitely move forward.”
Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden, who has completed 57.2 percent of his passes this season to go along with 14 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 72.4 is trying not to worry about the futures of Heckert, Shurmur or his own.
“I can’t think about that,” Weeden said. “I need to play well because I haven’t played well enough. That’s all I’m worried about. For myself, for this team, that’s all I’m worried about – us finishing strong. We have 8 quarters of football left. Me playing well for these guys in this locker room. Whatever happens, I have to put 8 good quarters on tape.”
Offensive coordinator Brad Childress and defensive coordinator Dick Jauron – both recruited by Shurmur are trying to stay in the moment and not speculate on the decisions to come.
“I can’t waste my time on that stuff,” Childress said. “It’s a misuse of energy and what will be, will be.”
Like Jackson, left tackle Joe Thomas, who was taken No. 3 overall in the 2007 draft, has also been down this road and watched staffs come and go. He offered advice to the 17 rookies on the team who haven’t been through this before.
“We don’t know what will happen at the end of the season,” Thomas said. “There may be a new coaching staff or new people around here so anytime you go out there you want to put your best foot forward and put your pest stuff on tape.
“You don’t know where you’re [going to stand] at the end of the year and I think the young guys are starting to understand.”
Change seemed inevitable since it was announced on the first day of training camp that Jimmy Haslam was buying the Browns from Randy Lerner.
Then when Haslam named Banner CEO on Oct. 16 it was all but guaranteed.
“If I’m an owner, it’s your ship and you have the right to do whatever you want to do and what that is we don’t know,” Jackson said. “I think Mr. Haslam coming in is a great sign. He’s here, he’s visible. He talks to all the guys and is throwing a party this weekend. He’s doing the right things to make this organization successful.”
The loss to Washington last week ended a 3-game win streak and a stretch that saw them win 5 of 8 following an 0-5 start. Young team, rebuild project or not, 9 wins to date in 2 years is a tough sell to a new owner as well a frustrated fan base.
“It’s always tough because it’s a bottom line business,” Jackson said. “Wins and losses are your resume. I’ve been here a long time and I bust my tail just to get a win and I do whatever it takes. I want to be associated with winning.
“So I’m all for whether it’s change, it’s not not change, as long as we can win games. It’s the bottom line. Everyone’s much happier, guys stay around much longer. That’s better for everyone.”