Aug 15, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam during a preseason game against the Detroit Lions at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Browns: 7 takeaways and speculations about the front office moves


With the surprising moves made by the Cleveland Browns and owner Jimmy Haslam, let’s go ahead and draw some conclusions:

1. Mike Pettine was Haslam’s choice.  Perhaps Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi took the lead early, but the longer the search went on, the more Haslam seemed to put his finger prints on it.  After saying they did not think they would interview anyone they interviewed last year, they brought in Ken Whisenhunt for an interview.

That does not mean that Pettine is safe, given that Haslam hired Banner who is leaving after one year, but it does mean that Haslam, after presumably getting his feet wet last year and getting comfortable this year, he is the one who picked Pettine.

2. Haslam decided he simply did not need Banner.  Between the disaster of last year as viewed by Haslam and Haslam getting more comfortable in the operation as the owner, this move suggests that Haslam is extremely confident in taking care of that part of the franchise, whether it is warranted or not.

3. Haslam has made the calculation that he will not be any real danger in terms of legal action or indictment from the government over the issues with Pilot Flying J.  This move puts Haslam more in control and more in charge of the operation and while he could hire someone else to function in the role Banner was, this seems to indicate that Haslam is comfortable that he is not in danger of going anywhere at this point.

4. Ray Farmer’s strategy may be different than that of Lombardi and Banner, he is not at a disadvantage and should not be negative impacted in terms of making the proper evaluations.  Farmer has been in place for a year, has been working and evaluating throughout including being the most out front executive at the Reese’s Senior Bowl.  While the shake up looks like it could have a negative impact on the Browns, who have 10 draft picks in May, it should be perfectly fine and merely just alter the information they have.

Additionally, this would at least put doubt in the idea that Farmer did not know he was being given the general manager job before turning down the Miami Dolphins.  The organization has been criticized and Farmer was extremely confident in the Browns, praising Lombardi and Banner.  If he knew he was going to be the general manager, have control of those picks and have a plan he wanted to enact, it would explain that confidence.

5. The interview with Farmer seemed to foreshadow what was coming.  Banner came out and gave a glowing review of Farmer, saying he was a rising star in the business and someone he felt would be a general manager in the league.  The assumption was that it would be in a couple years as opposed to a couple weeks.

6. This situation looks bad on a local and national from a perception standpoint, but little changes in the building.  The coaching staff is the coaching staff, which was picked by Haslam.  Farmer was picked by Haslam.  The scouting department, now led by Farmer, has been in place for a year.  The timing is extremely unusual and looks bizarre, because it is, but the impact may be smaller than initially believed.

That does not alter the pressure of this draft and how critical it is to the future of the Browns.  This move does not give anyone in the building an excuse to screw the pooch here.  They have to deliver a franchise quarterback and have to use this draft to make the team better.

7. Farmer will be the new face of the Browns.  Previously, it had been Banner, causing many to criticize Lombardi.  Unless Haslam is going to do every interview, which would not be smart, Farmer is going to be the guy.  Farmer is the spokesman for football decisions, Alec Scheiner is the business guy and the man who will be in charge of the stadium renovations.

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  • Letterman007

    Gotta agree, it was surprising that it happened so quickly, but you knew it was only a matter of time! If it would have happened earlier, I think Chud would still be here maybe! Lombardi was a looser from the get go and there weren’t many people in Cleveland that wanted him here! Banner over stepped his boundaries, he is a cap man, financial guru and needed to stay that way! It will be interesting to see how they draft and did this move change their thinking!

  • posaunepar

    Reading your stuff in reverse order. Good work. Putting two and two together from the timing and having worked in decision-making situations with guys like Banner and Jimmy Haslam, both in one-on-one and committee settings, I agree 110% that Jimmy basically took over command of the search late in the process.

    I’ll take your “Jimmy is comfortable/confident” in the selection and raise it. He has ALWAYS been confident in his judgment. People like him who have either started or “grown” successful businesses such as PFJ almost always possess a great deal of healthy self-confidence. They are able to admit their mistakes, fix them and move on without beating themselves up or losing their nerve. But the one constant is that even in areas where they lack expertise, they trust their overall instincts and judgment, call their shots, and move forward.

    Jimmy witnessed inefficiencies in his organizational structure during the search. Absent a coaching version of Andrew Luck, they were getting nowhere making a decision. He’s the owner, and he improvised a limited de-facto restructuring of the front office for the rest of the search by taking it over. He was pleased with the result, and decided to make the re-structuring permanent. As you suggest, Ray Farmer was better suited to head up the football side of the new organizational chart than Banner or Lombardi.

    I wouldn’t go quite as far as you saying that he’s extremely confident in running the football side of the operation now. Instead, I think he’s simply more comfortable with the business model now in place, and in his ability to assess what qualities/talents are needed from the person running it. A subtle difference, perhaps, but a significant one. Think Jerry Jones.