There is a power struggle going on in Cleveland between Browns coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer, according to Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com.
According to Grossi, Browns director of player engagement Dr. Jamil Northcutt, who has recently departed, was a “major player” in creating the rift. Northcutt would often go “outside the boundaries” of his job description.
But in the politics of Browns football, Northcutt was an inordinately major “player” in the 2014 season – a confidante of GM Ray Farmer and, it turned out, a thorn in the side of Mike Pettine’s coaching staff.
And Northcutt’s ouster – which the club is characterizing as a mutual parting – reflects a seeping rift between Pettine and the GM who is facing a four-game suspension for breaking NFL rules by texting, and badgering, coaches in the press box booth during games.
On game days, Northcutt had an undefined role on the sideline. Sources have told ESPN Cleveland that Northcutt was a recipient of Farmer’s in-game texting, and that he relayed messages from Farmer to the coaches. Another source said that was absolutely false.
There is a story of Northcutt having a confrontation with defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil during that horrible 23-7 loss to the Houston Texans on Nov. 16, in which nondescript Houston running backs Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes combined for 49 carries and 210 yards on the ground. O’Neil did not take kindly to Northcutt’s intrusion during the difficult day, sources said.
There is also a story of Northcutt having a “conversation” with offensive line coach Andy Moeller concerning the non-use of reserve guard Vinston Painter after the injury to center Alex Mack. According to a source, that was outside the boundaries of Northcutt’s job description.
With Northcutt out of the picture, Pettine and Farmer may find working together this season a lot easier. Both guys must understand that they have to work together this season to keep their jobs. If the losses continue to pile up, both will be on their way out very soon.