In Harbaugh pursuit, Browns followed a proven, logical blueprint

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The Browns were widely panned for their wide-ranging and long-lasting coaching search, but history suggests their boldest gamble — pursuing and putting together a draft-pick compensation package for the 49ers’ Jim Harbaugh — was a wise one.

After all, at least three Super Bowl-winning teams have surrendered high draft pick compensation to hire their head coaches.

In 1970, the Dolphins hired Don Shula away from Baltimore. Commissioner Pete Rozelle ruled Miami had tampered with Shula and forced the Dolphins to give up a 1971 first-round pick.

Shula led the Dolphins to an unbeaten season and victory in Super Bowl VII in his third campaign with Miami.

In 2000, the Patriots surrendered a first-round pick to hire Bill Belichick from the Jets.

The following season, Belichick led the Patriots to an upset of the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.

In 2002, the Buccaneers sent two first-round picks and two second-round selections to Oakland for Jon Gruden.

In Gruden’s first season on the job, the Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII.

Overall, Belichick (three), Shula (two) and Gruden (one) have combined to lead teams to one-eighth of the Super Bowl titles in NFL history.

While the Browns might not be a ready-made Super Bowl contender, they have a talented core. In short, they are exactly the sort of team that could take a sudden step forward with the right coach.

Perhaps Mike Pettine will be that leader for Cleveland. (Who knows — perhaps Rob Chudzinski could have been that guy.) Nevertheless, it’s understandable why the Browns would have interest in Harbaugh, who has led the 49ers to at least the conference-title round in all three of his seasons on the job. He has been a difference-maker for San Francisco.

The Browns have made more than their share of missteps in recent seasons. But their home run cut for Harbaugh was logical. A club’s head coach is its CEO, its tone-setter. The Browns’ pursuit, though failed, was just smart business. They identified and pursued an effective, strong and successful leader for their football operation.

The next step is closing the deal. But Cleveland was on the right track. It’s a start.

25 responses to “In Harbaugh pursuit, Browns followed a proven, logical blueprint

  1. It was a smart pursuit by the Browns, and just one more indication that Harbaugh will not be in SF for too much longer. Im guessing it takes one year of missing the playoffs and they’ll give him the boot.

  2. I think now the Browns have a GM that talks about getting players to fit the coach and not players for their vision. The “Building for the Future” was code for tanking for picks. Farmer is the first GM/President to say “It’s my job to make the coach successful, where it seemed like Banner and Lombardi set Chud up to fail.

  3. Even if this ridiculous crock of crap was true I’m quite sure Bill Cowher would have got up off his a** to coach the Niners.

  4. In the end, Cleveland always comes up short

    1-1 last year against the pissburgh stealers and 2-0 this year doesn’t look to short to me!

  5. All the news coming out today makes me wonder, again, if Pettine will actually survive til week 1. If Harbaugh becomes available to the Browns in the next couple weeks, it would be hard to fault them for a messy do-over.

  6. Browns called 49ers to inquire.Niners asked Harbaugh if he’s interested.He said no. Now Browns can say “hey we ALMOST trade for Harbaugh” What a non story. I’m sure in a month or so Trent & Jim will get a extension hammered out.Why dont we ask Mike Lombardi he will have the first hand full detail account of the story! Oh wait!

  7. “A club’s head coach is its CEO, its tone-setter.”

    No, a club’s CEO is its CEO, unless the club in question is Cleveland, of course, who just fired their CEO without bothering to replace him.

    So yeah, I guess in this case Harbaugh would’ve been the de facto CEO as well as being the head coach. Man Cleveland sucks…

  8. The Pack traded for the Walrus.

    The Vikings couldn’t get their draft pick in on time.

    One coach won a Super Bowl.

    The other coach got busted selling his Super Bowl tickets.

  9. Good news for the browns is it doesn’t appear any other team in their division really wants to dominate. They all make very questionable moves and really leave the division for the taking any given season

    If browns stop making their same mistakes… They could easily take advantage of the bengals being cheap, the ravens being overconfident in their front office and quarterback, and the steelers refusing to admit you can’t beat Father Time.

  10. A good coach is important for success in the NFL but it’s nice to have a QB who can play. Where would you use your draft picks?

  11. Dumbturdi and Bummer told Haslam that if he pursued Harbaugh they would resign. Jimmy said ‘You’re Fired’ and hit the flusher!

  12. I can’t help but notice that the media guys have been saying for years and years and years that the Browns are on the right track, that they have a talented core, that they’re not that far away, and so on. Then they go out and lose 11 or more games every single year. So either the Browns have had the worst coaches in the world, or the media guys are seeing a mirage. Or maybe both of those things are true. Either way, it’s getting tiresome … tiresome to see the Browns constantly lose three-fourths of their games, and tiresome to hear the media tell us that things are going to change when in fact they never do.

  13. Look, I’ve been vocal about how pathetic I think the Browns are…but I gotta give it to them for having the walnuts to try to push this trade through!

  14. Why would the Niners want to keep Harbaugh, when they could probably get Mike Singletary back for a lot less? Sure, the team would go instantly from being SB contenders back to being a sub-500 team (funny how Harbaugh took Singletary’s 5-10 Niners and had the same team in the NFC Championship game his first year… must just be luck), but he’d cost a lot less. Maybe they could even get Dennis Erickson to come back. He’d cost even less than Singletary.

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