BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner hope to do what has never been done in the 14-year modern-day, expansion era history of the Cleveland Browns.
Hire the right general manager and head coach.
With the firing of general manager Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur, the Browns seek to fill the positions for the 6th time since 1999.
“We’re well aware that this has been a carousel,” Haslam said. “It’s our job to bring stability. Our goal is to find the right person. The two of us feel a tremendous responsibility to get it right.”
Haslam purchased the Browns for $1 billion after owning a 12 percent minority share in the Pittsburgh Steelers – an organization which is the model of consistency. They have had 3 head coaches since 1969 – Chuck Knoll, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin.
The Browns have had 3 coaches in the last 6 years.
They’ll have a 4th soon.
As Banner and Haslam opined in front of a dozen television cameras and nearly 50 reporters 2 hours after firing Heckert and Shurmur they offered a promise to Browns fans who are sick and tired of losing and regime changes – they will get it right.
But it’s been said before – over and over again since 1999.
So why fire Heckert and Shurmur?
“The top quality in a coach that we’re going to look for going forward is somebody with some really strong dynamic leadership,” Banner said. “I think there was also an element of feeling the need to kind of maybe create a fresh energy and a fresh start. Sometimes something new, even if it it’s not any better, can create that kind of momentum and energy so I think it was things like that.”
Haslam was a little more direct in his response.
“Both of them are ready to move on,” Haslam said, “And candidly we’re ready to move on.”
Haslam hopes to use his experience as CEO of Flying Pilot J and Banner’s experience around the NFL to find the 2 best candidates.
“There are only two people who know who the candidates are, and you’re looking at both of them,” Haslam said. “Although we only made the decision with Pat and Tom in the last week or two, I think any responsible person does succession planning, and, candidly, we’ve been doing succession planning for the last two or three months.”
Already, the list of possible coaches from the college and NFL ranks to take over for Shurmur is lengthy.
“We’re going to explore all avenues, college coaches, coordinators and head coaches,” Haslam said. “The key is to get the right person.”
Alabama’s Nick Saban, Oregon’s Chip Kelly and Penn State’s Bill O’Brien are all believed to be on the Browns’ short list. Indianapolis’ Bruce Arians, New England’s Josh McDaniels, Denver’s Mike McCoy, Washington’s Kyle Shanahan and Cincinnati’s Jay Gruden are among the coordinators who are expected to receive consideration.
Among those who could replace Heckert are Atlanta player personnel director David Caldwell, San Francisco director of player personnel Tom Gamble, Baltimore assistant GM Eric DeCosta and NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi.
While no timetable for the hires is in place, they hope to move quickly.
“I think the sooner the better, but the key thing is to get the right person,” Haslam said. “If we happen to find the right person this week, we’ll have him back here in a week. If it takes a month, we’re going to take a month because we’re very sensitive to getting this right.”