American Football

Browns power structure: Revisiting the 2020 hiring process


NFL: Cleveland Browns Rookie Minicamp
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

“Alignment” was the keyword the entire time

The Cleveland Browns are on their way to a losing season and fans want change. In content creation terms, this statement could be considered “evergreen content,” unfortunately.

While it seems that both GM Andrew Berry and HC Kevin Stefanski are safe (given comments by QB Deshaun Watson and the extension for OL Jack Conklin), it hasn’t stopped the change conversation in the media and fan base. If things are not going well, something must change.

The Browns were oh-so-close to being a winning team with real playoff aspirations this year. An unexpectable blown lead to the New York Jets, a failure to stop backup running backs despite no QB threat against the Atlanta Falcons, a missed field goal at the end of the game against the Los Angeles Chargers and losing to a “dome team” (New Orleans Saints) in frigid temperatures all could have/should have been victories.

As we prepare for what could happen shortly after the season ends, it is essential to revisit the process that led us to Berry and Stefanski in the 2020 offseason:

Given everything that was said three years ago, and what we have seen and heard since, Berry and Stefanski are a package. Unlike in other power structures, the coach doesn’t report to the GM nor does the GM report to the coach. Instead, with both reporting to Haslam, the same person would be making the decision on their future.

DePodesta’s role has always been somewhat of a mystery. “Chief Strategy Officer” is not a term regularly used within professional sports and, if it is, generally is not a position of power. In 2020, DePodesta had a huge role in directing the search that led to Stefanski and Berry. Hear from the man himself what his role is:

In the end, if Haslam gets frustrated with where the process is at some point, DePodesta, Berry and Stefanski seem married to each other’s fate. Win as a trio, lose as a trio. Is that certain? No, one of them could make a bad decision that separates him from the other two or decide they want to make a unilateral change but, so far, we haven’t seen cracks in their alignment.

When hiring Berry and Stefanski, alignment was key with DePodesta leading the charge that it was of the highest value. If a change occurs in the Browns power structure, all three will likely be aligned right out the door.

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