Coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer have been fired following the team's loss to the Steelers, the team announced in a statement. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport was the first to report the Farmer news.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam told reporters Sunday night that newly named executive vice president Sashi Brown will be in charge of football operations and will have final say on roster.
Ultimately, there were no winners in the battle between Pettine and his front office. The two sides did not appear to be the same page for much of their tenure together, which lasted just two seasons.
Browns tackle Joe Thomas, who has seen five coaches come through the building since 2007, said this was not Pettine's fault.
"I think he's a good coach. I think he's one of the better ones we've had," Thomas told NFL Media's Aditi Kinkhabwala.
Pettine was never given a fair chance to establish himself with the team in two seasons. He was handed an impossible quarterback situation and lack of offensive talent. With that said, Pettine's defense took a huge step back this season. They went from ninth in scoring defense to 29th entering Week 17. That was his side of the ball and they were among the league's worst this season despite a ton of resources on that side of the ball.
Farmer's brief tenure was similar to the other five Browns general managers who have held the job in Cleveland over the last eight years. He had regrettable first-round picks, failed to find a quarterback and didn't get long to fix his mistakes.
The news of a full housecleaning comes fewer than six months after Haslam insisted to reporters that he would stick with Farmer and Pettine long term.
"We're not going to blow things up. OK?" Haslam said during training camp. "I think we're on the right track, so we're not going to blow things up."
A 3-13 record season has a way of changing things. Pettine's defense collapsed and the offense struggled to run the ball until late in the year. Farmer will be most remembered for his sour relationship with Pettine and for texting the Browns coaches last year during games, which resulted in a four-game suspension for violating league rules prohibiting electronic communication about competitive or strategic information during games. Farmer had four first round picks in two years, and three of them (Johnny Manziel, cornerback Justin Gilbert, offensive lineman Cameron Erving) struggled to live up to expectations.
"They understand the bottom line of this business," Haslam said. "You can't lose 18 out of 21 games. That's not acceptable."
It's telling that Pettine was peppered with questions about Manziel's whereabouts in his final press conference. Pettine, who looked like a man who knew his dream of coaching the Browns was ending, was short when asked about whether Manziel was in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
"I don't know. I wasn't," Pettine deadpanned to laughter in the room. Pettine went on to say it "would be disappointing" if the Manziel story was true.
Pettine was handed Manziel as his first-round quarterback in 2014 and did his best to coach around the situation. The Browns started 7-4 last season before losing five straight to finish the season. The Browns have now fired their head coach five times since the last time any team in the AFC North made a coaching change.
UPDATE: Pettine released a statement Monday about his time with the team:
"I would like thank Dee and Jimmy Haslam for the opportunity they granted me to lead the Cleveland Browns as head coach for the past two seasons. Although I wish I could have brought more wins to the franchise for the passionate fans of this great city, I will have many fond memories to cherish from my time in Cleveland. I also want to thank all the players that I've been able to coach in my time here. I'm grateful for the effort they put forth, their willingness to take coaching and their overall dedication to the foundation we built. Additionally, it is very important for me to thank the coaching staff for all their hard work. I appreciate all the sacrifices that were made by their families while their husbands and fathers were enduring the long hours that are the norm for NFL coaches. Lastly and just as importantly, I want to thank the fans of the Cleveland Browns. I appreciated all the support, you deserve a winner and I wish that for you in the near future."