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Z Formation, Volume V

December 31, 2012 - Zach Baker
The Browns will now have had four coaches in the last five years.

The Steelers have had three coaches since Woodstock.

Sure, the Steelers, by their standards, didn't have a great 2012. Of course, if the Browns ever went 8-8 we'd be recording concept albums for them. It's been that bad, that long for this franchise, and as someone who's been writing about sports for the last nine years, I'm starting to feel like I write the same things over and over.

It's likely, almost certain, that coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert will be fired. Neither one has succeeded, but each are being let go less for their performance and more for the fact that owner Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner want their own guys doing those jobs. If Cleveland had went 10-6, well, it might have been different.

Look at the Cincinnati Reds. GM Walt Jocketty didn't hire Dusty Baker to manage, he inherited him. I thought the two egos wouldn't survive more than a season. But Baker has led the Reds to two division titles in three years, and just signed a two-year contract extension. Winning bridges differences.

The Browns haven't won, so it's easy for Banner and Haslam to do what they want to do.

I'm not in favor of any major changes. Not because I'm sold on Heckert or Shurmur, but because the Browns need stability more than anything. Changing course every two years only guarantees mediocrity and turmoil, and the Browns have had both.

But the reality is Haslam spent a billion dollars to buy the franchise, and he can do with it what he wants. If I had spent that much for something, I wouldn't care what anyone said. It's mine now.

So, what now?

The Browns success over the next few years will come down to one issue:

How much football does Joe Banner know?

When Banner was in Philidelphia, the team was successful, but the question was whether the success was due to Banner or Andy Reid, since it was well known that Reid was heavily involved in the personnel decisions.

Banner will have final say in Cleveland. For all the concerns the fanbase (including me) have about Mike Lombardi, the reality is he will not be the general manager in Cleveland. Whomever Banner hires will be the pro personnel director. He'll lead scouting, he'll do grunt work. But he won't make the decisions on who to draft, who to sign, who to hire.

The decisions will be made by Banner and Haslam.

So who likes being the second or third in command? Who wants to coach in this system?

We shall see.


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