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Around the AFC North: Taking a look at the dysfunction of the Browns and Steelers

Cleveland seems to be on the rise despite an incredible amount of incompetence over the years, and the problematic way the Steelers operate with players.

Pittsburgh Steelers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

It is always nice to check in on the AFC North when there is plenty of dirt to be dished on the teams.

The Browns had a very damning report come out about the way the team has functioned over the past couple of seasons, and the Steelers had a report come out about Mike Tomlin openly telling players how he dealt with Antonio Brown for the past few seasons.

The only team with some positive news is the Ravens, who extended their head coach’s contract.

The Ravens give John Harbaugh a four-year extension

The Ravens finished off their season with the high note of winning the division after starting rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson. The team won six of their final seven games, which was good enough to get the team into the playoffs.

This was great news for Harbaugh who has been rumored to be on the hot seat a few times after the team has missed the playoffs. In fact, this was the first time Baltimore got a playoff berth since 2014. Of course, the Ravens were a game away from the playoffs in 2017 before Tyler Boyd ripped their hearts out on a fourth down play.

Specific details for the contract haven’t been released, but as with most contracts for head coaches, this really means nothing more than a sign of support. If the Ravens struggle the next couple of seasons it wouldn’t be surprising to see them make a move, as Baltimore hasn’t been the most patient franchise when the team doesn’t remain competitive.

Harbaugh’s future is probably tied to Jackson’s career.

The Browns were as dysfunctional as you’d expect

This story is honestly hysterical to read as a fan of a team other than the Browns. It feels like reading a satirical ramblings of an old drunk Browns’ fan. Except for the fact they are all stories from people inside the buildings. There is honestly too much to unpack in this form of a post.

One of the best things is the account of the Browns’ owner Jimmy Haslam’s running of the team. The combination of paranoia and two-face tendencies really explains most of the Browns early struggles.

“You think you’re the one he trusts,” a former high-level member of Browns management told Seth Wickersham of ESPN. “By the time you realize that he confides in everyone, it’s too late. You’re gone.”

That is exactly what you don’t want to hear about your team's owner. There are also accounts of him making moves because he thought he was purposely advised into bad moves by other members of the NFL.

It really doesn’t paint a great picture for the Haslams. Nothing better illustrates that then the owners addressing their staff after the firing of Hue Jackson.

A few hours later in the auditorium, the Haslams tried to bring order to chaos and restore lost faith, projecting optimism. It wasn’t a long meeting. Nobody asked any questions. And some employees returned to their desks curious as to why Jimmy and Dee felt the need to hold yet another all-staff gathering after an all-too-predictable change and frustrated that the Haslams seemed unaware they were using the same words -- down to the phrase -- to explain why they made mistakes that have typified their ownership. Again.

The Haslams aren’t the only one who come out of this looking bad, but it is clear that their failure to really understand how to build a proper front office and functional coaching staff can clearly be tied to the Browns struggles over the past six seasons.

Mike Tomlin reportedly told players that Antonio Brown would be gone when his production went down

This really isn’t a surprise when you think about just how undisciplined the Steelers have been over Tomlin’s tenure. Brown has gotten away with some pretty wacky stuff like airing a postgame locker room over Facebook Live. This still isn’t what you should be telling players, though.

It has been very clear that certain Steelers have been given a much longer leash than others in terms of shenanigans, but for a head coach to tell other players that as soon as one of their best players declines he will be gone shouldn’t inspire confidence among the rest of the team.

First of all, it is acknowledging that certain players are getting special treatment. It also displays how the team’s head coach is willing to talk behind a player’s back, and if he is willing to talk about Brown, what is going to stop him from talking about them.

Obviously, players who are great are going to be held to a different standard in the NFL, but you can’t have a head coach talking about how he is going to get rid of them to other payers. That is just not how you build chemistry.