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Build Around the Coach

Dec 31, 2012 -- 3:28pm

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Here’s what I took away from the Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner press conference on the firing of head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert in Berea:

Without a doubt, the head coach hire is far more important to them than the general manager and they will wait as long as they have to in order to hire the right guy. Translation: We’ll wait until after the BCS National Championship game to announce our coach if we have to!

Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner will build around that coach, which leads me to believe that Jon Gruden or Nick Saban are strong candidates. Both would want control and this was their way of sending the message out to Gruden and Saban that they are willing to offer that power to the next head coach.

The general manager will be nothing more than Joe Banner and the head coach’s gopher in my opinion. Sure sounds like Mike Lombardi to me! Lombardi already has a relationship with Banner, Gruden and Saban, and Lombardi knows what it takes to be a gopher. He’s done it before.

When I asked Jimmy Haslam what the most important attribute was in hiring his first ever NFL head coach, he gave me a two word answer: “Strong leadership!” Sure sounds like either Gruden or Saban to me!

Forgive me if I don’t believe Haslam and Banner when they say they don’t have their head coaching candidates ranked as they begin their search. I’ve said all along and I’m sticking to it, that their short list consists of Jon Gruden, Nick Saban and Bruce Arians.

Buzz words from the press conference: sustainable, stability, strong leadership, fresh energy and get the right guy!

Sounds like Joe Banner will be flexible on who makes decisions on personnel depending on which coach they get. If the Browns are able to hire Gruden or Saban, then either of those two would have more power.  If a Bruce Arians or Chip Kelly were hired, I would think Banner then would have more power and control.

What I heard at the presser was not a ringing endorsement for Brandon Weeden as the starting quarterback for this team next year. I’m not saying he won’t be, but they left the door wide open in my opinion to replace Weeden.

PLAYOFFSS?  PLAYOFFS?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  PLAYOFFS?

Here’s what Jimmy Haslam told me on whether or not they could be a playoff team next year:

“You know it might be a little unfair for me to put that pressure on that new coach already. But let’s face it, the way the NFL operates there is relative parity and you can turn things around quickly and you’re looking at two of the most impatient people in the world up here on stage. But I’ll reiterate what I said: The key is to get it right, where we’re good over a long period of time and where people expect the Cleveland Browns to be in the playoffs every year. So that’s the goal, to do it that way.”

Joe Banner had this to say about the current roster and making the playoffs next season:        

“I think we have a foundation here to move forward and I think the team is better than it was.  I think it has a ways to go and I hope with the right hires here, we’ll be able to accelerate the process of getting to where we want to be. We want to do it in a way that’s sustainable.  We could, if we just made whatever sacrifices we need to be the best possible team we could be next year, we probably could make the playoffs. In fact I’d be massively disappointed if we didn’t. If you factor in the long term sustainable success we have, that may or may not be what happens next year to achieve that goal.”

If I’m guessing now as to whom they would ultimately like to hire as their head coach, I think Nick Saban or Jon Gruden would be that guy. It sounds like Haslam and Banner will do whatever they have to, and spend whatever they need to, in order to land one or the other. Let the search begin!

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