BEREA, Ohio -- Teams in the National Football League that are out of the playoff chase by the bye week usually end up with some form of dissention in the locker room or between the coaching staff and front office.
At 0-8 after a 33-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at Twickenham Stadium in London two weeks ago, the Browns had a tumultuous bye week, especially after missing on the opportunity to trade for former New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, mishandling a trade agreement with the Cincinnati Bengals for quarterback A.J. McCarron and had suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon reinstated by the NFL.
“I think it's incumbent upon the leadership to come together and to address it and to lead through it,” Browns executive vice president Sashi Brown said.
“That is what adversity will breed. And professional sports, it's highly public, it's very competitive and we have to lead through it. I think it really is incumbent upon us from ownership right on down to be the type of organization and to mandate that from everybody in our organization.”
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When the McCarron trade was botched, national media members reported that the coaches believed the front office sabotaged the deal. Although Brown dismissed those notions, reportedly he and other front-office officials were subject to an intense meeting with owner Dee Haslam.
“We’re going to leave the internal discussions internal, but as I said, I’m not worried about that part of it,” Brown said. “As I said, Hue was in the room as we were hustling to try to get the deal done, so he observed it, witnessed it.
“For us, we have to be realistic and big boys about the fact that right now, we’re not great and it’s easy to pile on and write various things. All those things will grab the lead, and as a leadership group, not just me but as a leadership group, get through.”
Since Brown took over control of the 53-man roster on January 3, 2016, the Browns have gone 1-23 with a 14-game losing streak to start the 2016 season, and an 0-8 run through the first half of 2017 after the loss to the Vikings.
Brown and Co. have turned over the roster by more than 80 percent since taking office, and built a team with 46 of the 53 players having three or less years of NFL experience.
Over the last three years, the Browns have gone 4-36.
“The groups are working together and working hard and we’ll continue to, but we understand that while we haven’t had the results that we aspire to, that those are going to be the types of stories that come out,” Brown said.
“We have to do everything we can to stay unified, and I think those are the keys ... that is the key towards making this a successful effort on both parts, and we will get there.”