The NFL is a strange, ever changing world, but the one thing that remains constant is how much change the Cleveland Browns seem to do. After suddenly firing head coach Rod Chudzinski , and spending almost a month looking for, and, ultimately hiring a new coach in Mike Pettine, the Cleveland Browns have announced that GM Michael Lombardi and CEO Joe Banner will be leaving the team. Owner Jimmy Haslam hasn’t brought that winning attitude or consistency with him from Pittsburgh. Joe Banner’s departure will take place in the next couple months but Michael Lombardi seems to be effective immediately because the Browns have promoted Assistant GM Ray Farmer to GM. President Alec Scheiner is running the business side of the organization and Farmer will run the football operations.
Now that the Browns have their front office in place, again, they will look forward to the NFL draft in May. The Browns own the 4th overall pick in this year’s draft and, according to ESPN.com, it will be the Browns 7th top 4 pick in the draft since 1999. All of this change cannot be because the team has had 6 straight 11 loss seasons, although that doesn’t help, it is clearly due to the lack of patience owner Jimmy Haslam has, the Brown have had 3 different head coaches and 3 different GM’s over the last year and a half. Dating back about a year ago, Haslam went back to his business, Pilot Flying J, and fired the man he hired from PepsiCo to run the company while Haslam was focused on running the Browns. It was also Haslam who decided to fire coach Rob Chudzinski after one season and now he has essentially fired Lombardi and Banner.
So Haslam has made 4 hires in his two businesses and he has fired all of them. What does that say about how Jimmy Haslam runs a business? I guess a lot considering he may have a federal indictment coming his way because of practices at Pilot Flying J. So with a federal indictment hanging over his head Haslam will not be hiring a new CEO to oversee his franchise which means he’ll take a page out of Jerry Jones’ playbook and do it himself, because that has been working very well for the Cowboys lately. Banner’s departure was because his work was essentially complete, which is funny, because there has never been a 4-12 team that had no more work to do. The CEO of an NFL franchise is to oversee progress, and to make the organization run smoothly from top to bottom, Joe Banner did that with the Philadelphia Eagles and was fired for trying to do that with the Browns.
Michael Lombardi was just another product of the Bill Belichick tree that didn’t quite pan out. Lombardi was part of the Browns organization when Bill Belichick was head coach before the team relocated to Baltimore, and Haslam brought him back into the organization only to be fired one more time. Jimmy Haslam has not owned this team for two full seasons yet and he’s made very questionable moves along the way. Before settling for Mike Pettine to replace Rob Chudzinski, they had two candidates pull their names from consideration, and had two interviews with Pettine while in Mobile, Alabama during the Senior Bowl, then flew to Florida to interview fired Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, only to fly back to Mobile to interview Pettine a third time and offer him the job. The punch-line to this joke is that the two people responsible for interviewing and hiring Mike Pettine were just fired themselves. This is the organization that since 1999 have had 20 starting quarterbacks, 8 head coaches and only 1 playoff appearance.
It’s safe to say that it takes one unified vision and plan to build a consistent winner in the NFL but the Browns are going a different route. Not admitting his team is dysfunctional, Jimmy Haslam needs to realize that since his teams inception back in 1999 they have been consistently inconsistent.