An appropriate description for the Cleveland Browns off-season is tumultuous. From the front office and coaching staff turn over, fan disagreement with draft and free agent movement and last but not least new owner Jimmy Haslam’s legal issues related to his primary company Pilot/Flying J tumult is apparent. This has been written about at length but may actually impact how the team is run and the fan’s experience. While new CEO Joe Banner has no history of acquiescing with fans desires, the problems this off-season may see him make short term and small decisions that could impact how the fans view the team, and the management.
Management has brought in experienced Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner with his exciting down-field offense. The team has also brought in Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton, whose philosophy calls for an attacking defense that tends to blitz, then blitz and blitz some more. Due to the offense, and a desire to excite the fan base, expect Brandon Weeden to hold on to the starting position, barring injury or significantly terrible performance. Neither of Weeden’s competition, Brian Hoyer and Jason Campbell, have the arm or long term prospects to excite the fan base. Horton’s defense will need to attack as to keep the secondary, sans Joe Haden, from having to cover for to long. This should lead to exciting use of free agent pickups Paul Kruger and Desmond Bryant as well as first round draft pick Barkevious Mingo. Expect a defense similar to Horton’s Arizona Cardinals of the last few years, or more known by Browns fans the blitzing defense from Pittsburgh.
Much has been made this off-season about the limited positive fan experience at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Many fans best experience, outside of the few team wins, are found in the parking lots and local bars. Inside the stadium there have been limited activities, fun distractions or wow factors. Instead fans have had to focus all their attention on a struggling team, which has not been a positive thing. This year with the hire of Alec Scheiner from the Cowboys and a management team that knows the importance of excitement you can expect many game day upgrades. Scheiner was the key planner for the Cowboys’ new stadium down in Jerry’s World. Expect a Midwest version of entertainment at the stadium this year. Also in process is the addition of Wi-Fi for the fans to be able to access social media, internet and other distractions via apps on their smart phones. In the past fans couldn’t check in, share photos or tweet about what was going on during the game.
Distractions are a Good Thing
In the end management is aware that often distractions are beneficial when negative issues are present. A winning team may be a year or two down the road but excitement on the field and in the stands should be easier to obtain. Haslam’s brother is in politics and can be a resource in understanding how these distractions can work in the team’s favor, expect many of them this year.