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Posted by Oct - 23 - 2012 0 Comment

Jimmy Haslam III has been on the job for a week. Joe Banner, a day less. Today, Mike Holmgren announced his decision to “retire” this season as president of the Browns. Over the course of the season, it has been reported that Tom Heckert has already begun looking for a soft place to land once the axe falls to his desk. So once again, there will be boxes in and boxes out of offices at 76 Lou Groza Blvd. If there is one thing that the Browns have been consistent at over the last 13 years, it’s inconsistency. The longest tenured members of the front office under the Lerner family ownership were Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel, each serving a four year term from 2005 until the final game of 2008. It’s very likely that someone besides Pat Shurmur will reside in the head coach’s office and parking spot come Super Bowl Sunday in February of 2013, if not sooner. Though, I will take JH3 at his word when he says he won’t make any changes until season’s end. (I think he would lose a modicum of face with the fans by going back on his word, even if 99% of them agreed with the decision.)

I have heard some talking heads on the airwaves over the season so far say Browns fans are afraid of change, and fearful of what this new regime will do. I somewhat disagree. I don’t think we fear change in this town, we’re simply tired of it. Folks are actually supporting the idea of Pat Shurmur staying on another season; not because he is good at what he does, but because either a) they simply don’t want to go through another rehash of coaching hires and fires, or b) they think he might be the next Bill Belichick and is ready to turn the corner with this team.  Well, I’m here to tell ya, the only corner he’s turning is off Lou Groza Blvd. on to Front St. with a U-Haul come 1 January. Pat Shurmur may be a helluva nice guy. In fact, I have heard many of the radioheads that bash his coaching say as much. But ask yourself. What could he possibly accomplish over the next 9 games that would change the reality of his job performance over the first 23? Mind you, this isn’t entirely his fault. He never should have been put in this position to begin with by Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert, and has often been left on an island to manage (and ultimately mismanage) one situation after another. Some have been his doing, some have not. But for all the things he is directly responsible for, he has continued to make the same mistakes in judgement and execution in 23 games over two seasons. This isn’t about whether you are winning or losing, its about how you are winning and losing. Game management on Sundays is the epitome of his lack of ability to do this job. Clock management mistakes continue to hound him. Ill prepared game plans to exploit weaknesses in the opposition seem as foreign to him as Chinese algebra. A severely unbalanced offensive philosophy weighing way to heavily on the pass and his rookie QB’s arm has failed to produce more than a single victory in almost a full calendar year. And what drives the point home that this won’t change any time soon under him, he takes zero accountability when things go wrong. It’s too easy to blame poor execution, youth and inexperience than to say “well, this one is on me because…”. His commentary and actions portray a man who believes beyond all doubt that he is the smartest person in the stadium on any given Sunday. Yet, the end results of his efforts continue to manifest themselves in the loss column for the Cleveland Browns.

Tom Heckert, meanwhile, is the most intriguing of all the players in this year’s version of musical chairs in Berea. He has brought in some fascinating young talent who appear to be legit of NFL-caliber. This is unlike most of his predecessors, save for perhaps Phil “Go root for Buffalo” Savage. But for each draft steal or undrafted free agent turning heads on the field, he as also blown some picks from rounds that should produce impact players on your team. Add to that the refusal to bring in even a cursory free agent here and there to compliment the young team that’s been assembled and Tom has earned his fair share of critics. The case to let him go is just as strong as one to keep him. However the proverbial writing was scribbled on the wall this week as Joe Banner announced that he, not Heckert, will have the final decision on roster moves henceforth. Sounds like a pink slip is well on its way. The whole reason Heckert came here from Philly two years ago was to have final say over the final 53. Now that Banner has made him a toothless GM, there isn’t a whole lot in the way of incentive for him to stay, even if Banner asks him to. What is sounds like is Banner and Haslam don’t want Heckert pulling some last ditch slick deal to try and either save his and Pat’s jobs, or sabotage his to-be-determined replacement. Either way, it’s hard to imagine Tom being back with the Browns in 2013 as well.

So there you have it, Browns fans! Times they are a changin’…again. For the umpteenth time. And while the likable and lovable new owner says that stability is the intent once the appropriate pieces are in place, it is taking more than just a leap of faith from this blogger and fan to buy 100% into that. I want to. Badly. I want to take JH3 at his word, and to his defense, he hasn’t given me reason not to. But I am in Missouri-mode with the Browns now. Show me. Show all of us fans that you can do this the right way. That’s a tall order, no doubt. To date, he has said and done the right things, in as much as he could do. But the rubber is on the road now, and you are at the wheel, Mr. Haslam. Perhaps among the improvements you have envisioned for this franchise, one might be replacing the revolving door on the front office you just acquired.

Categories: Cleveland Browns, Featured

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