Raymond Ventrone and Jim Schwartz have a lot to prove with the Cleveland Browns.
The Cleveland Browns have fired defensive coordinator Joe Woods and special teams coordinator and assistant head coach Mike Priefer this offseason and replaced them with Jim Schwartz and Raymond Ventrone respectively. The move was seen by everyone as an automatic “upgrade”. Hosts on 92.3 were talking about how these moves were “going” to improve the team and that they clearly made the right call.
Yet, nothing is ever a guarantee in pro sports, and I wish more people would be aware of that. The Browns did not “upgrade”, nor did they “downgrade”. They made a change. That is all we can really say right now. We won’t know how these moves affected the team until well into the season.
The special teams and defense may be greatly improved, they may stay the same or they may get worse. We don’t know, and to say that we do is a lie. The Browns may not have needed to fire Woods or Priefer, or they may have needed to. We simply won’t know until we know.
The reason for that falls on one simple question; were Woods and Priefer struggling because the players they had weren’t good enough or were the players struggling because Woods and Priefer weren’t good enough?
One has to be true, but which one?
The Cleveland Browns may look very different in 2024
If the defense and special teams see marketed improvement with relatively the same talent, we can say that the coaching may have been at fault. If the defense and special teams improve with vastly different talent, then we can say the talent was at least at fault. Yet, if the special teams and defense continue to struggle, with or without new talent, then it’s fair to say that the talent was the issue.
Either way, if the team struggles again in this area, either Andrew Berry or the Browns’ shiny new coaches, will be gone in 2024. Likely both.
If the team struggles again and has a third-straight losing season, the Browns will likely clean house, starting with Andrew Berry. The new GM will likely want his own head coach, and in turn, that head coach will likely want his own coaching staff.
This will also partly vindicate Woods and Priefer, who some, myself included, felt were fired due to the talent they had to work with. You can’t turn a brick into a diamond, no matter how hard you try and that’s how I felt about the team’s talent acquisition over the last few years.