BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns have struggled to win games since their return to the National Football League in 1999, and those difficulties have been magnified since Jimmy and Dee Haslam purchased the franchise in October of 2012.
Despite being 1-19 over the last 20 games, including a franchise-worst 1-15 showing in 2016 and an 0-4 start to the 2017 campaign, Browns coach Hue Jackson feels the full support of ownership.
“Jimmy has been as supportive of anybody I have ever been around in this situation,” Jackson said. “Let me go on record of saying that. I know everybody is thinking Jimmy is going to throw me over in the river (laughter). That is not the case at all.
“He has been extremely supportive. He has been more than supportive from what I understand what the situation has been here in the past. I couldn’t ask for a better owner in that situation. My comment to him is always, ‘Hey, Jimmy. Let’s get it right.’ That is what he talks about. 'Let’s find a way to get this right.' That is what we are trying to do. There is pain in this process -- obviously, a lot. We just have to get through it, and I think we are.”
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Over the last three years, the Browns have gone 4-32, and the record has not been much better since Haslam officially purchased the team in October of 2012.
In five seasons under Haslam’s majority ownership, the Browns have posted a 15-53 record, which is the NFL’s worst mark over that same stretch. Factoring in the remaining games of the 2012 season after the sale was approved at an NFL Owners Meeting in Chicago, Haslam’s Browns have gone 19-58.
“At the end of the day, the only thing that solves this is what? Winning,” Jackson said. “That is the only thing that solves any of this that we are talking about.”
Although the Browns committed to a complete rebuild after the firings of GM Ray Farmer and coach Mike Pettine following the 2015 season, they constructed a front office full of personnel new to the decision-making process in the NFL.
The Browns elevated Sashi Brown, once general counsel for the team, to executive vice president of football operations and gave him final say over the 53-man roster. Then, Brown hired Paul DePodesta as his chief strategy officer.
Known for his role with the development of the “Moneyball” approach with the Oakland Athletics, DePodesta spent 20 years in Major League Baseball but had no experience within the NFL.
“I truly believe that is our focus,” Jackson said of winning. “I know that is my focus. I know that is our team’s focus, and I think it is everybody’s focus. We are trying to win. I don’t want anybody to think we are walking out there trying to lose. We are not doing that.
“I don’t know how to do that or else, what would I come here for everyday and what would the players come here for everyday? We are trying to win, and we are working our tails off to do that. It just hasn’t happened for us.”