BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam are looking for answers to the question that has vexed them since buying the team 5 years ago.
What will it take to get their floundering franchise back on track?
That’s why they sat down last Monday following the Browns’ 38-24 loss in Detroit that dropped them to 0-9 with the team’s ‘leadership council’ along with head coach Hue Jackson.
“I am very appreciative that Dee and Jimmy would talk to the players about what they feel, what they see and what they want,” Jackson said. “I will say this to all involved that there is a plan in place and they want to win. They expect this organization to win and for it to be better. They are going to get it that way. I truly believe that with all my being.”
The meeting, which included linebacker Christian Kirksey, cornerback Jason McCourty, defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, left guard Joel Bitonio and defensive end Myles Garrett among the dozen or so players to attend, served 3 purposes – 1: to thank them for their effort and encourage them to continue giving it, 2: provide the players with an opportunity to ask questions of ownership and 3: gather intel on what it is going to take to get things moving in the right direction on the field.
“We’re all just trying to figure out a way to win,” McCourty said following loss No. 10 – 19-7 to Jacksonville Sunday – of the meeting. “That was the main thing. We’re all in this thing together as one unit – players, coaches, management, ownership, everybody. We’re just trying to figure out a way to win.”
The losing, which has reached historically futile and record-setting proportions, is taking its toll on all levels of the organization and the Haslams are investing a lot of time over the past 2 months trying to figure out where and why they are coming up short every week in addition to what can they do to help fix it.
“It was good dialogue, and I think we’re moving in the right direction even though we haven’t put a win on the board,” Bitonio said Monday. “We’re in the battle every day and they’re here supporting us, but they want to know from our perspective what we think needs to change and what’s doing well and that kind of stuff.”
Garrett, selected No. 1 overall in this year’s draft, appreciated the sit down and took away an important message from them.
“That they want to win as badly as we do,” Garrett said. “It is just nice to see that they are passionate about us getting over the hill.”
The players declined to discuss any specifics related to their conversation – including what could be in the offing should things not improve over the final 6 weeks.
“As far as I know, I think they’re sticking with the plan,” Bitonio said. “That’s all I know. I mean, I’m just a player, but from what I’ve seen, we’re trying to stick with the plan and keep building.”
Rumors and speculation continue to swirl about the future of Jackson and executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown come Dec. 31 when the season ends in Pittsburgh. The Browns are an NFL-worst 1-25 under Jackson and Brown.
“It is hard right now for all involved,” Jackson said. “People don’t get it. I get that, too. It is hard for me. Hard for our players. Hard for everybody. At the same time, when management tells you that we are going to do this and we are going to get there and here is the plan, that says a lot.”
What the Haslams’ plan is moving forward remains to be seen.