By Tony Grossi
The Morning Kickoff …
Part Three with the CEO: In the final part of our conversation with new Browns CEO Joe Banner, we touch on quarterback Brandon Weeden and Banner’s intention to have a big say in player selection – plus the hot-button issue of a possible uniform change.
Fans who favor a refreshing touch-up to the traditional Browns’ look may not be pleased by Banner’s comments.
Brandon Weeden is the sixth different quarterback to start for the Browns on Opening Day in six years.
Banner: That’s got to stop.
Yet you said in an interview in The Plain Dealer that he basically is on trial these remaining games to determine if he’s the franchise quarterback. Are 16 games enough to base that decision on?
Banner: No.The more games he plays, the better chance your judgment is right. There’s a chance you decide he is and you could be wrong. There’s a chance you decide he isn’t and you could be wrong. It’s not enough time to know. It is enough time to have an educated opinion, especially if you’ve got a number of people looking at it who are smart, have experience developing young quarterbacks, (and can judge) how much of the quality of your roster around him affect him, the scheme, all those things. So it’s not enough to know. But it is enough to have an educated opinion.
How much will next year’s coach have to say about Weeden’s future?
Banner: A lot. Whoever it is, whether it’s Pat (Shurmur), or anybody else. A lot. They’re going to be held accountable for wins and losses, and whoever the quarterback is, and the proper assessment of that quarterback, is going to have a lot to do with how many games they win or lose. So we will put a lot of weight in whatever they say.
I detect that fans were uneasy when reading your comments that you will have a voice in picking players in the draft. Will you be picking players?
Banner: Have I picked players before? No one knows the answer to that because we worked as a group. I know. The people who were in the meetings know the answer to that. The right way for an organization to function is for a smart group of people to work collaboratively and make these decisions. I’ve always said when I’ve been asked this: I was part of the group of decision-makers in Philadelphia. I will be part of the group of decision-makers in Cleveland. I think the track record we had collectively in Philadelphia was very good and I’m confident when you ask this question 3-5 years from now people will think the track record of decision-makers in Cleveland will be very good, and I will be part of it.
At your introductory press conference, you said fans will see in a short timeframe that their team is in good hands with people making smart decisions. It sounded as if you didn’t think there have been many smart decisions made here lately.
Banner: No (that’s not what I meant). But I do think we will go forward and win more games than they have in the past number of years and I think that happens because you make good decisions. Realize that good decisions could be deciding on who’s head coach, deciding on which players to sign, if you trade make sure you feel you get fair market for it. Those are the kind of things I’m talking about.
When we get to the end of the season and announce here’s what we’re going to do, some people will agree with it and some will disagree with it. I think they’ll walk away feeling it was well thought-out and they have a clear plan of what they’re doing and how they’ll get there. Partially because there’s been so much change, I’m not sure, whether it’s fair or not, people have had that sense about the organization for a long time. I don’t think they’ll see a lot of ambiguity.
One of the most passionate topics debated by Browns fans of late is whether to change the uniforms. Your thoughts?
Banner: There’s no question there’s passion about this.
The franchise has been stale for so many years, is the timing right for a fresh, new look?
Banner: Here’s my unsatisfying answer: I don’t know. We have so many big questions at the moment that we have a real urgency to find out. We haven’t figured that out. I myself am a traditionalist about football and cities and uniforms, so I personally will never be in favor of anything that isn’t maybe subtle, and I don’t even know if I’m in favor of anything. And we would never do anything that we hadn’t done some extensive research on to make sure it would be well received. I’m very aware the question is out there and there’s passion about it.
The two things most visible about your team is how it plays and how it looks.
Banner: My answer doesn’t imply that I think it isn’t important.
When would you have to make a decision on a new look?
Banner: You’re probably at the point where nothing’s happening for next year. I don’t know the exact schedule. We did this (in Philadelphia), and it takes some lead time. (NIKE and the NFL) will provide a whole bunch of ideas, from subtle to something really radical, and you want to take the time to do the proper research. My sense is it would be really hard to do that for next year. You spend a lot of time feeling out ideas, giving input and then they have creative people that present concepts. I don’t think you can wait till March to start the process. I think by March you’ve got to essentially finish the process. I can’t even imagine (getting that done) because for the next three months that’s going to be the last thing on our mind.
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There are no games scheduled for today.