-- As the old saying goes, 'where there's smoke, there's fire'.
If that's the case, then someone may want to make sure the Cleveland front office is well-stocked with fire extinguishers.
Reports from MFN insiders suggest that owner Jeff Coleman is ready to make a drastic realignment in all aspects of the organization. People close to the team, speaking under the condition of anonymity, have described closed-door meetings where words such as "from the top down" have been mentioned, and not in glowing references.
"Coleman is passionate about the fan base," one insider noted, "and he feels that the product on the field hasn't been good enough, hasn't been up to the fans' standards."
"He's frankly pissed off at the whole thing."
Cleveland was officially eliminated from the playoff race after last week's 16-10 overtime loss to Pittsburgh. The loss also insured that the team can't finish any better than 7-9, the same win-loss mark as last year. While that record was a significant improvement on the abysmal 1-14-1 campaign of 2022, this year was supposed to be one of further improvement. Coleman had made it a goal to make it to the playoffs for the first time in his now 10-year tenure as owner.
He had lined up a team to do just that: 11 Draft picks, many of which are regular contributors on the current roster, mixed with skilled veterans. The biggest recent move had been the re-acquisition of former Cleveland #3 pick John Lyons to be the team's leader and core of a resurgence movement.
Instead, the team has followed in Lyon's lackluster footsteps.
It isn't that the skills aren't there; Lyons has stayed steady in his skillsets, and the team around him is talented, albeit young. Given time, the team could probably mesh into a contender.
However, it seems that Coleman, and in his thoughts the fans, might be sick of the wait. The smell of smoke from Berea may turn out to be the ashes that a phoenix rises from.
Or it may be the spontaneous combustion of a franchise.