CLEVELAND — Respect is a small word that carries a big meaning, especially in a National Football League locker room, and in the search for their next head coach, the Cleveland Browns want someone that is a leader of men.
According to ESPN NFL reporter Josina Anderson, the Browns’ search committee -- owner Jimmy Haslam, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta and executives JW Johnson and Chris Cooper -- is looking for a coach ready to lead and who can get the players to buy into that leadership.
“Hold these guys accountable, install discipline…and we want him to be respected by these players more than anything,” Anderson reported, per a source.
Discipline and turnovers derailed the Browns’ once-promising hopes to break the NFL’s longest active playoff drought, which now stands at 17 consecutive years dating back to the 2003 season.
The Browns (6-10) last qualified for postseason play during the 2002 season.
In addition to missing the playoffs for the 17th straight time, the Browns finished the 2019 season with a sub .500 record for the 12th consecutive year. The Browns last finished above .500 when they had a 10-6 record in 2007.
Through the first seven games of the season, the Browns collected 70 enforced penalties for 591 lost yards. The Browns averaged 10 penalties per outing over that time, which started with 18 infractions in the season-opening loss to the Tennessee Titans.
That average did not get much better over the second half of the season, as the Browns finished the year with the league’s sixth-most penalties, 122 infractions that cost the team 1,106 yards. Those 1,106 yards were the fourth-highest total in the NFL this past season.
Although the Browns missed the chance at reaching a deal with Super Bowl winner Mike McCarthy, as he was hired to be the Dallas Cowboys’ new coach, the franchise will have the choice of the remaining candidates, as the other four coaching vacancies have been filled.
“In conversation this morning with Browns sources, I heard relief for more time available to consider HC candidates,” Anderson wrote. “Was also told not to read into any previous connections as they really tried to emphasize there’s ‘no clear cut choice’ and that not everybody has had a chance to meet everybody.”
To this point, the Browns have interviewed five candidates: McCarthy, prominent offensive coordinators in Greg Roman (Baltimore Ravens), Eric Bieniemy (Kansas City Chiefs) and Brian Daboll (Buffalo Bills), and standout defensive coordinator Robert Saleh (San Francisco 49ers).
On Wednesday, the Browns will interview Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator, and former Detroit Lions coach, Jim Schwartz before meeting with Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski Thursday.
The Browns will round out the week by talking with Josh McDaniels, the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, before making their decision, which according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter is expected sooner rather than later.
“The Browns want to have a deal in place by Saturday,” Schefter reported, according to his sources.