April 19, 2014

WFNY Roundtable – Reactions to the end of Banner and Lombardi

WFNY_roundtableNever a dull day in the life of covering Cleveland sports. With the news of Banner and Lombardi’s era coming to an abrupt end, we naturally had to have a quick roundtable discussion at WFNY to give our impressions and reactions to the news. Check out the conversation below: [Read more...]

WFNY Roundtable: The Firing of Rob Chudzinski

WFNY_roundtableWith the Cleveland Browns firing head coach Rob Chudzinski after just one season, it was only naturally that the writers at WFNY would want to discuss this topic in one of our roundtables. Check out the conversation below: [Read more...]

Supporting Browns Ownership is a Tricky Proposition for Fans

Jimmy Haslam seemingly dissatisfied

Just 10 short days from now, the Cleveland Browns will officially open Training Camp 2013. It’s hard to believe how fast summer always flies by, but I consider Training Camp to be the beginning of the end of summer. And in just 3 weeks from yesterday, the Dolphins and Cowboys kick things off in the annual Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium in Canton.

Indeed, real on-field football is right around the corner. Of course, for Browns fans, on-field football seems to be about the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. Instead, the story dominating Browns headlines as of late revolves around new owner Jimmy Haslam.

I wish the story was the Browns themselves. Even if that story is about how the Browns rank #31 in ProFootballTalk’s preseason rankings. Or heck, I’d even settle for more talk about the Browns potentially carrying 2 kickers on their roster. But on-field Browns news is hard to come by these days. I actually had to do a Google search to find out if Barkevious Mingo had signed a contract yet1. I was pretty sure he hadn’t, figuring I’d have heard about it if he had. But with so much talk about Jimmy Haslam, it seemed somewhat plausible that he had signed and the news just flew under the radar. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

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Joe Banner: “We’ll be a quality, competitive team pretty quickly.”

Despite Grantland’s Chuck Klosterman struggling to get a sit-down interview with Joe Banner over Draft Weekend, Clark Judge, CBS Sport’s senior NFL analyst, was able to sit down with Cleveland Browns’ CEO Joe Banner and talk about the rebuilding project of the Browns.

In what was a, frankly, candid interview, Banner refused to shrink under the weight of the massive job that lies in front of him. In fact, Banner was exceedingly confident that he will not fail in his duty:

Q: Five years from now what are we going to be saying about Joe Banner and the Cleveland Browns?

Banner: “Hopefully, you’re not focused on Joe Banner. But I think you’ll feel the Browns are where they’re supposed to be. It’s an iconic NFL franchise that has a rich tradition and fans that deserve success. To me, it’s a three-legged stool: You have on-the-field performance; you have charity and a commitment to community; and you have the whole fan experience element of running these teams. I think people will look at this franchise and feel we’re doing all of those very well.”

Q: But talk about a daunting challenge. Aren’t you basically trying to raise the Titanic?

Banner: “This is a big challenge. I’ve sold people on coming here on the basis that we have a chance to create one of the most compelling turnarounds of any sports franchise in the country. And I think that’s how we’re thinking about it. Some people may be intimidated by that, but we’re actually excited by it.”

Banner also had some strong remarks about the failures of his predecessors:

Q: I’ve heard talk about a 3-5-year program, but Browns fans are sick of more long-term pledges. So what should people know about what you’re doing here, and how soon should they expect to have a winning franchise?

Banner: “I think it’s going to be obvious so that once we get playing, they won’t need to ask the question. I think they’ll see improvement immediately, though nobody realistically thinks we’re ready to win a Super Bowl. And, at the risk of crossing the line, there have been a lot of people here over a lot of years who talked about long-term plans, but I haven’t seen anybody who actually implemented that. They’ve been filling needs year by year, sometimes with expensive players who aren’t that good. Everybody talked about a long-term plan, but when’s the last time the team traded for a future draft pick? When’s the last time the team said, ‘We may not have position ‘X’ with the best player this year because there’s nobody in the marketplace who’s that good, and we don’t want to waste all the future cap money just so we win six games instead of five?’ So there’s been a lot of cheap talk about long-term plans here, and I’m not talking last year. You go back 15 years through different administrations. They all have basically been trying to win now.”

Whether Banner will find success where others have failed remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: Joe Banner is going to approach this process with a confidence and a straightforward approach that seems to differentiate itself from what Browns fans have seen before. The results should speak for themselves on the field.

[Related: Cleveland Browns to release QB Thaddeus Lewis]

Breaking News: Mike Holmgren to Leave Browns, Possibly Within Next 24 Hours

With new Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam officially being voted into the club today by his fellow NFL owners, the curtains on Haslam’s plans for the Browns can finally start to be lifted.

According to ESPN’s Ed Werder, Jimmy Haslam will be immediately naming Joe Banner as CEO/President, a move everyone expected. What was less clear was what Holmgren’s future would be. Now it appears we have the answer:

New Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, whose takeover of the team was officially approved Tuesday, will name Joe Banner the team’s CEO/president and current president Mike Holmgren will depart the organization within 24 hours, sources told ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder.

Haslem has a news conference scheduled for noon and will announce the Banner move, the sources said. It is unknown if Holmgren’s status will be addressed at the news conference.

Many expected Holmgren would at least stay on through the end of this season, but if Werder’s sources are correct, the end of the Mike Holmgren era in Cleveland may be over sooner than most anticipated. For all the losses the Browns racked up under Holmgren’s watch, an argument could still be made that strides were made and that the talent on the team is in better shape today than it was 3 years ago.

No word yet on what the future holds for Browns GM Tom Heckert or head coach Pat Shurmur.

UPDATE (12:30 pm): ESPN’s Adam Schefter is now reporting that Holmgren will stay on for the remainder of the season, and then will leave the organization. Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is also saying that Holmgren will stay on for the rest of the season.

Joe Banner Brings Winning Experience and Tough Decisions to Cleveland

Joe Banner will have some decisions to make in Cleveland

While Randy Lerner’s sale of the Cleveland Browns to Jimmy Haslam is not yet official, it’s becoming quite clear that everyone expects the deal to go through without issue. Furthermore, we now know that former Philadelphia Eagles President Joe Banner is a part of Haslam’s ownership group.

What does that mean for the Cleveland Browns? Well, it’s possible that Banner just wants to be a part of the ownership group and is done overseeing football operations. But that seems highly unlikely. Most observers fully expect Banner to take up the role currently being held by Mike Holmgren. For Holmgren, the writing is on the wall. It would be stunning to see Holmgren hang onto his job once Banner gets into town. [Read more...]