Sunday, January 6, 2013

The exciting choice is not always the best choice

When it became apparent that Chip Kelly was the top head coaching target of the new regime in Cleveland, the reaction from fans seemed to be mixed. He was a big name, but he had no NFL experience. He would bring a new offense to the Browns, but there was no guarantee that it would work in the NFL.

But with time, as all of the other potential candidates began to feel so mundane, the idea of Kelly running the Browns seemed to grow on everybody. It wasn't that his experience suddenly became more impressive, or that his offense suddenly seemed more practical. I think it was that the other possible candidates all appeared to represent business as usual.

The typical list of coordinators (Ray Horton, Jay Gruden), recently fired coaches (Ken Wisenhunt, Lovie Smith), and college coaches (Bill O'Brien, Doug Marrone) emerged. Any of those guys might make fine choices. But they would also be painfully conventional. Each one would feel like a road we've been down before.

What Jimmy Haslam promised, and what fans want (after a total of nine wins in two seasons), is a change. A big change. The opposite of business as usual.

That's why we began to fall in love with Chip Kelly. We put aside any reasonable analysis and became excited by the sheer possibility of what he could do. We imagined that he would revamp the roster and implement his system and it would be unstoppable. And he would do it all overnight.

Unfortunately, that's not the way it works in the NFL. Building a champion takes time. While it is possible to go from being out of the playoffs one season to the Super Bowl the next, there are no overnight successes. Anything that appears as such is a mirage, and is actually the result of years of stability and planning (combined with luck, of course).

As Browns fans, we're tired of being told to be patient. We've heard that too many times before. Unfortunately, we don't have any other choice. Chip Kelly would have been an exciting hire. But there's no real reason to believe that he could have built a contender here any faster than Wisenhunt or Smith or somebody else could.

We wanted a quick turnaround. An overnight success. Something that provided instant gratification, and can be expressed in 140 characters.

Unfortunately, that was never a realistic possibility.

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