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Browns Commentary: Culture change gets necessary push with response to off-field troubles of Josh Gordon, Alvin Bailey, Armonty Bryant

I suppose I should be surprised the Browns are 0-4.
For as bad as they’ve been since returning in 1999, this is only their fourth 0-4 start. They were 0-7 in 1999, 0-4 in 2009 and 0-5 in 2012.
Don’t get me wrong, 0-4 is awful. The Browns are the only winless team in a league built on parity.
But when the season begins with rock-bottom expectations, meeting them hardly seems cause for alarm.
Yes, the losses are frustrating, including three straight doomed by second-half mistakes. Yes, a reaffirming win is desperately needed sooner rather than later. And, yes, the Browns are likely walking into a hornets’ nest Sunday in Tom Brady’s return to the Patriots.
But this season has always been about more than the record.
New coach Hue Jackson and the new front office have been charged with fixing the dysfunctional franchise. The epic project surely isn’t finished in four games and won’t be complete in a year.
So, for now, progress won’t be measured only on Sundays.
Jackson has revised how the Browns practice and prepare. He’s vigilant in promoting a positive attitude to help navigate the tough times.
The culture change needs to encompass everything.
The organization, led by Jackson, proved it understands by how it handled three off-field issues in the last week.
Executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown gave troubled receiver Josh Gordon a final chance when Commissioner Roger Goodell reinstated him in July. On the brink of finally returning to the field, Gordon checked himself into a rehab facility.
The Browns offered their complete support, but made it clear they were done with Gordon. It can be argued the Browns should wait to slam the door to see how Gordon is when he emerges from treatment, but the decisive approach is welcome following years of headlines that consistently cast the organization in a negative light.
Brown began to execute the switch in philosophy with the release of quarterback Johnny Manziel in March. Eventually parting ways with Gordon is the logical next step.
Consistency is important in disciplinary matters — ask a parent – and the Browns followed through with offensive lineman Alvin Bailey and pass rusher Armonty Bryant.
Bailey was charged with OVI and cited for drug abuse and drug paraphernalia Sept. 26, and Jackson responded by benching him for the loss Sunday against Washington.
“My point is that there’s consequences to anything and everything you do within our building,” Jackson said.
Bryant has a history of off-field issues and was cut Monday as he came off a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. He would’ve improved a pass rush that ranks tied for 24th with six sacks, but the Browns weren’t interested.
“We are laying the right foundation here,” Jackson said. “It is important to do it the right way.
“We have a standard that we want to hold our players to, our organization to — coaches, players, everybody. We have an expectation, and that is the direction we’re going in. It is not just directed at Armonty or anybody. I just think that is the way Sashi, myself, Jimmy and Dee (Haslam) see this as we move forward. That is the way we are going to conduct it.”
None of the decisions has been that difficult.
Manziel was a two-year train wreck. Gordon has missed 31 of the last 36 games. Bryant could face another suspension. And Bailey is normally a backup who has been reinserted into the starting lineup after the one-week benching.
But what’s important is the message being sent to the locker room. The Haslams told the team at the start of training camp distractions wouldn’t be tolerated, and Brown and Jackson have made sure it wasn’t an idle threat.
Such a stance is long overdue. And a necessary step for an organizational makeover of this magnitude.
The Browns promoted tight end Connor Hamlett from the practice squad Tuesday. Special teamer Don Jones was waived to make room on the 53-man roster.
The Browns needed a healthy tight end to back up Pro Bowler Gary Barnidge, because Randall Telfer (high ankle sprain) and rookie Seth DeValve (knee) are out indefinitely.
Hamlett (6-foot-7, 259 pounds) spent four weeks last season on Cleveland’s practice squad. He had a good training camp this year, was waived in the final cuts and signed to the practice squad.
Jones, who was claimed off waivers in 2015, had three special teams tackles in four games this year.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or [email protected] Like him on Facebook and follow him @scottpetrak on Twitter.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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