Les Levine asked Joe Banner about what kind of time frame he thinks it will be to turn the team around. Joe Banner just started laughing, as did Jimmy Haslam. They weren’t mocking Les and his question, but after the laughter subsided, Jimmy Haslam revealed that he’d been pestering Banner with the same exact question.
Banner and Haslam spoke to the media today and candidly,1 they didn’t have a lot of answers. How could they? They take over a team in the middle of a season and still have about eight more days before Joe Banner starts working in Berea full time on October 25th. They’re in and around the team, talking to players, executives and employees, but this is the time of year for the team on the field to be tweaking its strategy for upcoming opponents. No matter how bad the coach might be, this is may be the worst possible time to swap a head coach out.
It’s also a bad time to try and make major changes to the gameday experience at Cleveland Browns stadium. There are procedures and facilities and employees in place, and the worst type of plan execution is one that isn’t given a full cycle of preparation first. With that in mind, it makes sense that Joe Banner and Jimmy Haslam didn’t have a lot of answers, except one. Banner and Haslam consistently said that everything will be evaluated at the end of the year. Sounds fine at first, but there’s one position where that doesn’t work especially well. That’s Tom Heckert.
Tom Heckert has reportedly been putting out feelers for new jobs since the ownership announcement in August. The cycle of a GM’s job is based around a few annual events. Obviously first and foremost is the NFL draft. Then there’s the start of free agency. Finally, there are some smaller opportunities in free agency throughout a season depending on injuries and waiver opportunities. I guess you could pull off an in-season trade or two, but those are rare.
Let’s use the draft as the primary objective for Tom Heckert. That occurs in April about three months after the NFL regular season has finished. So, you’re telling me that Banner and Haslam are going to make their decision on Tom Heckert when he should be in the heart of building his draft board with scouts? Swapping out a GM at that time of year could be a calamity for the draft. And if the Browns whiff on a draft because they botch the transition with regard to Tom Heckert and the GM position, there won’t be anyone laughing at Les Levine’s question about time-frame for turning this thing around.
Haslam and Banner haven’t made a mistake regarding this issue just yet, but candidly,2 it is looming largest in terms of uncertainty for their group going forward. The fans that Banner and Haslam proclaim to be the business’s largest asset will be crying and / or angry once again.
Other notable quotes from the press conference…
- Continuity is important, but only once you have all the right pieces in place. Browns might have the right people. Might not.
- Banner on fans, “I know these fans have been through a lot of ‘hopeful starts…'” he said before adding, “We just have to deliver.”
- Haslam claims that he hasn’t done homework on past failures in Berea and chooses to be “forward-looking”
- Joe Banner speaks to his evolution as an executive saying he learned to not be so competitive in negotiations. Re-defined “win” as sometimes looking for common ground.
- Joe Banner candidly3 proclaims that the Browns aspire to be the most “fan-friendly organization in professional sports.”