I'm going to mention the Cleveland Browns losing record just once in this column.
They are 0-12 this season and 1-27 over the past two years. There, I said it.
Frankly, I'm much more concerned about the turmoil off the field, than I am about what I see every Sunday.
We can all read the tea leaves to see that changes are coming to 76 Lou Groza Blvd. Something has to give, right? A new front office. A new head coach.
Here's my problem: I'm not sure I have confidence that owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam can make the right call.
Why, you ask?
Let's review the management-coach structure in the almost five full seasons that the Haslams have owned the team.
2013--Joe Banner, Michael Lombardi, Rob Chudzinski
Record: 4-12, including 7 losses in a row to end the year
Despite only one year as head coach, the Browns canned Chud after the season. The NFL Network's Ian Rappoport said at the time: "The team's brain trust -- Haslam, Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi -- felt that the Browns were not improving or responding to Chudzinski and his assistants. When the front office recently shared its concerns with Chudzinski, he did not seem to believe that the team's problems were severe."
A Browns veteran player told NFL.com's Mike Silver post-Chud: "We are so dysfunctional. These billionaires need to pick somebody and stay with them. These aren't girlfriends. You can't dump them if they (fail to please you) one time. Too many dominoes fall and (screw stuff) up when that happens. This is highly upsetting."
So the Browns had to pick a new head coach as we went into early 2014.
Jim Donovan told us an amazing story in a recent Donovan Live Postgame Show. Bill Belichick asked old buddy Mike Lombardi for a favor: give former Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano an interview for the head coaching job in Cleveland. Lombardi did an end-around past Banner to Jimmy Haslam and the trio interviewed Schiano during the week of the Senior Bowl.
One problem: Banner sat silent during the interview and didn't ask a single question.
Jimmy Haslam ultimately hired Mike Pettine after several candidates said no, jettisoned both Banner and Lombardi, and promoted Assistant GM Ray Farmer.
2014-15--Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine
Record: 7-9 in 2014, 3-13 in 2015
For one of the few times in the expansion era, there was excitement about the Browns that carried through most of the season. After Billy Cundiff's game winning field goal in Atlanta, the Browns were 7-4 and in a virtual four-way tie atop the AFC North. (The Bengals were 7-3-1). Then came disaster.
5 straight losses. Brian Hoyer benched at quarterback for Johnny Manziel. Textgate. Kyle Shanahan's departure as offensive coordinator, mainly because of Farmer's texts critiquing the play-calling.
Farmer was suspended by the league. The tension between he and the coaching staff only escalated the following season. Manziel's off-the-field shenanigans got worse. Farmer's four first-round draft picks from the two years netted minimal results. Thanks for playing guys, you're dismissed.
2016-17--Sashi Brown, Paul DePodesta, Hue Jackson
Record: Nope, not gonna do it again. If you need a refresher on how bad things have been, click here.
I happened to be anchoring ESPN Cleveland's Browns coverage the night the 2015 season ended. There was a press conference set for that Sunday evening at First Energy Stadium. When reports that Sashi Brown, the team's general counsel, would be promoted to VP of football operations and be in charge of the 53-man roster, I almost fell off my chair.
Haslam said that the team would hire a new coach first. The coach then would be involved in choosing the general manager, whose duties would focus scouting and talent acquisition. The general manager will report to Brown, the coach to Haslam.
The idea would be that all would work together and collaborate on decisions. Brown would get final authority on roster and draft, while the coach will decide how players are used on Sundays.
Sashi Brown, a man who had never spent a day handling talent evaluation, or scouting, or coaching, would now be making the team's final roster decisions. And he would be aided by none other than Paul DePodesta, a baseball analytics executive, in the front office.
Sorry, it wasn't a good idea then. It's still not now.
There have been a bevy of mistakes made by the Brown-DePodesta front office, from letting key free agents walk out the door, to not pulling the trigger on potential franchise quarterbacks in back-to-back drafts, to failing to execute a trade properly before the deadline. Years spent stockpiling draft picks seem to have been wasted.
Worse, it's obvious that the front office and coaching staff are not in lockstep. Almost every Sunday, I feel like CBS' Jason LaCanfora has a scoop about unrest between coaches and scouts, from the trading of DeMario Davis for Calvin Pryor, to the release of Joe Haden. The disconnect has built yet more animosity in the halls of Berea. It can't go on like this.
The other problem is that on an almost daily basis, we are inundated with bombshells coming from the Pilot Flying J trial in Tennessee. Let's be clear: Jimmy Haslam is not charged and has continued to deny any knowledge of or involvement in the fuel rebate scheme.
But when you consider that 13 former Pilot executives have pleaded guilty in the scandal, and four others are on trial, doesn't it make you a little scared about the kind of people the Haslams are placing their trust in?
Maybe that's unfair, but when you add that to the revolving door of Berea, it does give me pause.
So what's the answer?
My colleague Matt Florjancic joking mentioned that the Haslams need to attend a "Team-Building" camp. Heck, I'd settle for a seminar.
There's got to be a change in culture in the Browns organization. Enough with the wide gap between coaches, front office, and business personnel. No more backbiting. The goal needs to be about winning games and re-establishing the Browns as one of the flagship franchises in pro football. It used to be that way. I'm old enough to remember when.
Healthy disagreement is fine. In fact, I'm in favor of it. But this franchise needs to be on the same page upstairs, before we can even take a good look at who should be in the locker room downstairs.
Earlier this week, Jim Donovan suggested the Browns need a savior, a miracle worker.
Maybe it will ultimately be Peyton Manning. I'd prefer someone with more front-office experience, or maybe Manning coming with a mentor to help him navigate the choppy waters of building a football operation.
I suggested in a previous post that the Haslams should bring in a consultant, such as former Browns GM Ernie Accorsi, to help advise them. (Accorsi, by the by, has just been retained by another former team, the Giants, to help them in their search)
Right now, I'd just like a little hope.