Four days after the Browns fired coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley on Oct. 29, free safety Damarious Randall stood next to his locker at team headquarters in Berea and explained his outlook on the franchise in the aftermath of another major shake-up.

"In Dorsey we trust," Randall told me.

Leave it to Randall, a de facto spokesman of the locker room, to nail a central key to success with those four words.

The Browns finally appear to be in good hands because of General Manager John Dorsey, but whether they live up to their potential by becoming a contender will depend largely on whether owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam truly allow Dorsey to do his job.

A lengthy article Seth Wickersham wrote for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine published online Thursday underscores the importance of Jimmy Haslam breaking his bad habit of interfering with his top chief's ability to run the organization's football operations unencumbered. He has yet to prove he can do so on a long-term basis.

Wickersham's compilation of familiar stories about the dysfunction that has plagued the Browns since the Haslams bought the team in 2012 not only highlights Jimmy Haslam's notorious, self-confessed impatience, but also his tendency to ignore the people he hires when crucial decisions are being made.

For example ...

In the 2014 draft, some "football guys" in the organization wanted to pick quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, but the team had soured on him partly because "something about Bridgewater's handshake rubbed Haslam the wrong way," according to Wickersham's story. Former GM Ray Farmer traded up in the first round to take Haslam's preferred quarterback, colossal bust Johnny Manziel.

And in 2016, Haslam didn't heed warnings from chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta and former head of football operations Sashi Brown against hiring Jackson. Team brass voted four to one in favor of Sean McDermott, the defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers at the time who became the head coach of the Buffalo Bills, with Haslam submitting the lone vote for Jackson and telling the other bigwigs he believed Jackson could relate better to players, per Wickersham's article. Jackson went 3-36-1 in 2½ seasons on the job.

Haslam has fired four full-time head coaches — Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, Mike Pettine and Jackson — and four top football executives — Mike Holmgren, Joe Banner, Farmer and Brown, plus GMs Tom Heckert and Michael Lombardi.

The in-fighting, power struggles and regime blowups are well-documented.

With so many sweeping changes, the Haslams were bound to get a pivotal hire right, and, even if by sheer luck, they seemingly hit a home run on Dec. 7, 2017, when they named Dorsey their GM.

In one offseason, Dorsey transformed the roster of a team that had gone 1-31 the previous two years into one talented enough to warrant playoff expectations for 2019 coming off a record of 7-8-1. The table had been set with draft capital and salary-cap space created by Brown and DePodesta, but Dorsey executed like his predecessors failed to do.

Baker Mayfield became the first overall draft pick and long-awaited answer at quarterback last year after Dorsey had concluded the previous fall the Heisman Trophy winner fit the bill.

Dorsey drafting Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward (No. 4 overall), running back Nick Chubb (No. 35), wide receiver Antonio Callaway (No. 105) and linebacker Genard Avery (No. 150), trading for Randall and receiver Jarvis Landry and signing cornerbacks Terrance Mitchell and TJ Carrie, offensive tackles Chris Hubbard and Greg Robinson and receiver Breshad Perriman only strengthened the belief in the longtime scout who had already established an impressive track record of talent acquisition as the GM of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Whether Dorsey's early success in Cleveland prompted the Haslams to trust him to run their most recent coaching search is unclear, but the bottom line is encouraging.

Although the Haslams were on the search committee, Dorsey steered the ship. Josh McDaniels and Adam Gase, both of whom had been pursued by Jimmy Haslam in the past, didn't receive formal interviews this time around.

More importantly, Dorsey got ownership to approve Freddie Kitchens as the choice for head coach, and Kitchens does not report to the Haslams like Pettine and Jackson did. Kitchens reports to Dorsey, who formally introduced the coach to media last week with ownership seated in the first row at the news conference instead of behind the podium.

NFL franchises need the proper structure and the correct combination of people in charge to succeed.

It remains to be seen whether the Browns have finally found the right recipe, but Dorsey, along with the quarterback and head coach he picked, provides legitimate hope. For the franchise to have its best chance to overcome a history of chaos and upheaval, the Haslams must live by Randall's "in Dorsey we trust" mantra.

 

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com. Read his Browns coverage at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByNateUlrich and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.