Are more coaching changes coming to the Cleveland Browns?

The Cleveland Browns are reportedly looking to fire defensive coordinator Ray Horton and may also see offensive assistant Pep Hamilton leave town.

Just when everyone thought it was safe to start focusing on the 2017 NFL Draft and free agency …

The one constant for the Cleveland Browns since 1999 – outside of the losing, of course – has been the team’s inability to go more than a year without making some kind of change. This year those changes are reportedly coming in the form of defensive coordinator Ray Horton and assistant head coach of offense Pep Hamilton.

Alex Marvez from The Sporting News reported on Friday that the Browns are ready to move on from Horton and are looking at Gregg Williams as the new offensive coordinator:

The issue gets a little more complicated, however, as Marvez also reports that Williams has the weekend to consider the offer from the Browns:

So the Browns have not officially fired Horton but the word is out that they want to. But if Williams turns them down, that should make for an awkward meeting between Horton and head coach Hue Jackson.

As for Hamilton, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport says that Hamilton may prefer to return to the college game rather than stick it out in the NFL:

The difference with Hamilton’s reported departure is that the Browns actually want him to stay:

Got all that, Browns fans?

These are two different situations, starting with the fact that Hamilton is the one reportedly looking to make a move. If he truly does prefer coaching in the college ranks rather than in the NFL, the Browns shouldn’t force him to stay in Cleveland. There is still so much work to be done to turn this team around and having a coach that may not fully be into the process doesn’t help anyone.

So let’s just put all those “same old Browns” takes off to the side, shall we?

The situation with Horton is different, however, and does not reflect well on the Browns and Jackson.

There is ample reason to make Horton’s second tenure as defensive coordinator another one-and-done affair. The idea that he is anything more than a mediocre defensive coordinator has been repeatedly exposed over the past four years and reinforced this season as the Browns finished:

  • 31st in the NFL in touchdown passes allowed with 36
  • 30th in points per game at 28.2
  • 30th in sacks with 26
  • 31st against the run at 142.7 yards per game
  • 28th in average run per carry at 4.6

While there is more than enough evidence to move on from Horton, the decision puts the Browns in a tough spot.

Owner Jimmy Haslam has spent the past year telling everyone that things are changing with the team and the days of constant turnover are a memory. Now, a week after the season’s final game, the Browns are once again in the business of change.

The team shouldn’t be forced into a situation where they have to keep someone who’s not performing, but it is fair to wonder if the players are going through a sense of “here we go again” with the team’s management.

As for the potential replacements at defensive coordinator, Haslam should back up the money truck for Wade Phillips, although he is rumored to be more interested in joining the Washington Redskins.

Williams is much less appealing as, like Horton, he comes across as someone whose reputation as a defensive coordinator exceeds his actual results. There will be plenty of time to dive into the coordinator once the Browns actually make a decision, so we’ll table that for now.

No matter what happens in the coming days one thing is certain: if it is the off-season, then you know the winds of change will be blowing through Berea.

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