There’s a new sheriff in Cleveland. And his name sounds a little like Reggie Hammond.
It’s Jimmy Haslam, truck-stop magnate and new owner of the Browns. Last week, he told Peter King of SI.com that Haslam plans to apply a Steelers-style stability to the franchise.
“They’ve averaged a new coach once every 2.8 years [since the franchise returned to Cleveland in 1999], and that’s just not a good recipe,” Haslam told King.
So an owner who despises turnover is good news for the current coaching staff and front office, right? Probably not, since Haslam didn’t hire the latest iteration of the football operation in Cleveland.
King now includes in his latest Monday Morning Quarterback an ominous observation for Messrs. Holmgren, Heckert, and Shurmur, the trio currently calling the shots in the Factory of Sadness. “I’m hearing that no one in the Cleveland front office or coaching staff should feel secure beyond December,” King writes in an amazingly comprehensive look at the last seven days in the NFL. “Prospective new owner wants to judge everyone fresh.”
While King prefaces that potential bombshell by claiming that he has “no inside information,” he’s surely not “hearing” these things from the guy or gal who whipped up his latest triple grande whole milk hazelnut latte. (Yeah, I’ve been around him enough to know his standard Starbucks order; although on particularly long days of having to deal with the likes of, well, me it’s a quad venti.)
If it made it onto the page, there’s merit. And it makes sense. Because even though Haslam won’t want to change out General Managers and team presidents and head coaches, he’ll first want to get people in place that he believes in. The fact that Holmgren and Heckert and Shurmur were holding the spots when Haslam got the keys is nothing more than coincidental to the fact that the Browns are the team Haslam was able to buy.
“One thing I took from the Steelers, is if you’ve got a great leader, G.M. and coach — which they do — you’ve filled the three most important boxes, and you’re off to a great start,” Haslam told King last week.
It’s hard to call the current leader, G.M., and coach in Cleveland “great.” Shurmur has won four games in one season. Holmgren and Heckert can boast nine victories in two years. Barring a dramatic turnaround in 2012, Haslam surely will want to assemble his own crew.
It’s already believed that former Eagles president Joe Banner will be part of the new regime, presumably playing the role of leader. If Banner is hired, Haslam and Banner then will have to decide on a head coach and a G.M., along with determining the respective power to be held by those two positions.
And so while there may not be much change beyond 2013, significant adjustments could be coming to Cleveland after the coming season — unless the current regime carves out an unlikely path to the playoffs.