Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – In what is becoming a regular tradition, the Cleveland Browns have cleaned house again.
In a move that has been expected for months, general manager Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur were fired Monday, a day after a 24-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers ended the season.
“We felt that these moves were in the best interests of the Cleveland Browns and our future,” owner Jimmy Haslam said in a statement released by the team. “I enjoyed getting to know Tom and Pat over the past several months, and want to thank them, not just for their contributions to the Browns, but also the insight they were able to provide. They are both fine men and hope they have the best of success as they move forward with their careers.”
CEO Joe Banner made it clear earlier this month that he planned to act quickly following the conclusion of the season. It took him less than 18 hours to fire Heckert and Shurmur.
“This decision was not an easy one because of my relationship with Tom and Pat and the fact that they are both quality people,” Banner said. “Ultimately our objective is to put together an organization that will be the best at everything we do. On the field, our only goal is trying to win championships. I have a great deal of respect Tom and Pat, and I want to wish them and their families nothing but the best.”
Banner, along with owner Haslam will speak to the media at Monday morning at 11:30.
Shurmur was scheduled to meet with the team Monday morning and players will meet with position coaches as well as coordinators before taking off for the offseason.
Shurmur finished 9-23 in 2 seasons as coach of the Browns.
“I am extremely proud of the players on this team, who I felt made tremendous strides and helped to make the Cleveland Browns relevant again,” Shurmur said in the statement released by the team. “I want to thank them, as well as my entire coaching staff for making the past two years enjoyable. My coaches are outstanding teachers and even better men. They helped me lead these players through a unique time of transition. This group of players will achieve success soon, and there will be a part of me that will feel very good when that happens.
“I want to thank Randy Lerner, Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert for bringing me in and having the faith in me to lead this football team. I am disappointed that we did not win more games, but I do know the Browns are on their way to becoming a consistent winner. I appreciated the time spent with Jimmy (Haslam) and Joe (Banner), and wish them all the best as they provide a new vision for the Cleveland Browns.”
Since the team returned in 1999, the Browns have had 5 head coaches and all of them have finished 10 games or more below .500.
Shurmur is the 4th coach fired since 1999 (Butch Davis resigned with 5 games left in his 4th season) and he is the 3rd to be fired after just 2 seasons. Chris Palmer and Eric Mangini were also let go after 2 years.
In 3 years, Heckert turned one of the oldest and least productive rosters in the NFL into one of the youngest through the NFL draft while acquiring extra picks via trade.
“I leave the Browns feeling very good about many of the things we accomplished here and the direction in which I believe this team is headed,” Heckert said in the statement. “Having been around this franchise growing up, I was really excited for the opportunity to come here three years ago, and I want to thank Randy Lerner and Mike Holmgren for making that possible. I also want to acknowledge many of the hard-working people in the Browns organization, especially our player personnel staff, who are outstanding at what they do and supported me immensely in my role. I wish the team nothing but the best as they move forward.”
The most controversial deal came in 2011 when Heckert dealt the No. 6 pick to Atlanta so the Falcons could select Julio Jones who has developed into an all-pro receiver.
Heckert used the trade to select defensive tackle Phil Taylor, receiver Greg Little, fullback Owen Marecic, and quarterback Brandon Weeden. The Browns also used the 2012 4th round pick acquired in the deal in a trade with Minnesota to move up 1 spot to draft running back Trent Richardson No. 3 overall last April.
However Heckert was unable to complete the mega deal to land their top target heading into the 2012 offseason – Robert Griffin III. St. Louis sent the No. 2 pick in the draft to the Washington Redskins instead for their 1st round picks in 2012, ’13 and ’14 as well as a ’12 2nd round selection.
In 3 drafts Heckert has added cornerback Joe Haden, right guard Shawn Lauvao, Taylor, defensive end Jabaal Sheard, Little, tight end Jordan Cameron, Richardson, Weeden, right tackle Mitchell Schwartz and receiver Josh Gordon (via the supplemental draft) – all starters this season who have contributed significantly.