NFL Rumors: Report links Lombardi, Nick Saban to Browns

As if the smoke had not been billowing enough as it was, a report from The Boston Globe links media vagabond Michael Lombardi and Alabama head coach Nick Saban to the Cleveland Browns as a leadership team of the future.

Greg Bedard, citing league sources, states that there is “indeed fire” behind said smoke.

“[Browns CEO Joe] Banner, who was with [current Browns GM Tom] Heckert with the Eagles from 2001-09, also has a connection to Lombardi, who was in personnel with the Eagles from 1997-98,” writes Bedard. “Lombardi has been associated with winning teams wherever he’s been, from Bill Walsh’s 49ers, to the Browns (where he helped build the organization into a Super Bowl contender before Art Modell pulled the plug and moved the team to Baltimore), to the Eagles and the Raiders. Lombardi’s past weakness has been the cap, but Banner is an expert in that area.”

Per Bedard, it is also believed that Lombardi could provide a link to Saban, long been a target of Browns majority owner and SEC-fueled Jimmy Haslam III.

“According to the NFL sources,” writes Bedard, “Saban has let it be known that if he returns to the NFL — where he flopped, going 15-17 with the Dolphins from 2005-06 — it would likely be with Lombardi playing Pioli to his Belichick.”

The other two names listed in accordance with Lombardi were Oregon’s Chip Kelly and current New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

[Related: Tom Heckert’s future may rest in his own hands]

  • Mansoor Khan

    No words…

  • Justin

    Ok. So we’re aiming for 2 coaches who have flopped, and 1 without experience? We’re getting rid of Heckert who has done a great job in my opinion?


  • C-Bus Kevin

    First off, I’d just like to point out that 15-17 would be an improvement over what we’ve seen so far with Shurmur.

    Overall though, I’m not sure how I would feel about Saban being the head coach. The pros just aren’t the same as college. You can’t oversign guys in the pros like in college. Plus, the players aren’t buying into “the program” in the pros. I think this was a key problem for Spurrier. I think it was actually written at one point that Spurrier had a moment early on at practice with the Redskins when he didn’t reallize he couldn’t separate the offense, defense, and special teams simultaneously (due to the fact that players do double-duty on special teams in the pros).

    I think I’m still on the fence when it comes to the whole coaching issue. To be honest, if Shurmur finishes strong, I’m not sure you get rid of him, and I was calling for his job early in the year.

    I just don’t think I want the Browns to go after a college coach. It seems like the best coaches in the NFL come from the assistant ranks in the pros. I realize that’s what we’ve got, but maybe we get an assistant from a better team next time. Who’s running the offense in Houston? In Atlanta? I’m seriously asking, because I don’t know.

    And by the way…no Josh Daniels.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    I think Heckert is the real issue here. I agree that he’s done a great job. This Browns team is very talented for a complete reboot just two (or three) years ago. When you consider how many rookies and second year players they have, it’s pretty impressive.

    Shurmur has coached himself into a position where I don’t think anyone would be heartbroken if he was gone, but Heckert has done a great job.

  • Henry Brown


  • The_Real_Shamrock

    For some reason this news gives me the chills and this is saying something for an organization that has been absolutely horrid since 1999.

  • TheRobot57

    I just took quite a few grains of salt…

  • gren

    What are they thinking?!?!?!

    The top 2 guys on my ‘do not want’ list.

  • willf6

    I would prefer to keep Heckert, but at the same time, I don’t want any dissension in the front office. I don’t want people speculated when or if he’s gonna get the boot w/ every trade or pick he makes…I just want them to hire who they want, and move forward.

  • FearTheRoo

    Reports are also linking Chip Kelly and Josh McDaniels to the Browns. Wow! Saban, Kelly, and McDaniels would all be terrible choices. As bad as Shurmur is, I guess it can always get worse…

  • Derek

    I can’t believe I am going to say this but if these are your best options, then stick with Shurmur. I don’t know why but his players play hard for him.

  • BenRM

    Say whaaaaaaa?

  • Jaker

    As long as Jauron stays, I’d be ok with this. Saban’s first stint was a dud, but some coaches do better with their second team. I could easily see him being successful in the NFL. Not sure about Lombardi though.

    No matter who we have, we better not strip it down. I’m finally pumped about this team

  • Steve

    How did Saban flop? ~.500 on a team that had a terrible roster, especially at the QB position.

  • cmm13

    “Lombardi has been associated with winning teams wherever he’s been”.

    ……and fired from each one of those teams. No thanks.

  • Henry Brown

    Because he’s a good coach despite what some fat couch potatoes think?

  • BonerJams03

    For the love of God, leave the staff alone for more few years for a change. I am starting to worry that the sale of the team was a bad thing.

  • BonerJams03

    Rumor has it that NFL players did not go for his Rah Rah college shtick.

  • tonton

    there is 99% chance that people available have been fired… Also Saban is a good coach in my opinion and his college pedigree doesn’t afraid me. Bill walsh also was coaching at the college level before going to the 49ers

  • mgbode

    Word is that he’s still a good coach in a great situation and would be crazy to leave Bama.

  • Kimberly Grant

    Saban’s not going to go anywhere where he actually has to COACH.

  • Kenneth Barker

    Saban needs to stay at Alabama he has a great future there. Go Bama Beat Irish

  • Speak to truth

    Lombardi was NOT WITH THE BILL WALSH 49’ers. He did work with the 49’ers when Bill Walsh was consulting for the team before the York family broke off the relationship with Walsh. Get the facts straight!

  • john

    I am pretty sure both Saban and Kelly have never been fired. They have left jobs for others with varying amounts of success… But they were not fired.

  • west504

    Saban is much more suited for the college game as he demands fierce loyalty and an all-in approach to his program that doesn’t play as well with the pros. He is a great college coach.

  • mgbode

    Belichick demands a similar concept in NE. Harbaugh sure seems to demand the same in SF.

  • CajunPatriot

    Saban would leave a school where he is revered, paid a huge amount of money which they will increase even larger if that is the problem, with job security, and unparalleled success in recent years, where recruiting is easy due to the success the Tide has enjoyed, and go coach a team which has none of those advantages, where he quickly may not be the highest paid employee there, for no assurance of success…I just don’t see that happening. I have been fooled before like when he assured the LSU AD and all fans he was staying at LSU and bolted for Miami. Lightning could strike again. I am sure alot of SEC teams and others throughout the nation would welcome his departure from Alabama, but it would be sad. It would lessen the competition immediately, because love him or hate him, Nick Saban is the proven best college football coach today. There are few a notch or so behind him, but know they are behind him.

  • InfernoOrangeSS

    Saban is only a good coach if he has better players than your team. That is the secret to his success in college. He out-recruits everyone. However, if he has a team with equal talent, his game-day coaching leaves a lot to be desired. This is the reason he flopped with the Dolphins. He would be stupid to leave the situation he is in to go to the NFL.

  • mgbode

    2004 w/o Saban: 4-12

    2005 w/ Saban: 9-7
    2006 w/ Saban: 6-10
    2007 w/o Saban: 1-15

    Also, after the 2005 season, Saban lobbied hard for Drew Brees. Ownership vetoed his idea and it is one of the items that caused him to look for other opportunities (when he saw how right he was on Brees and he was blocked, he got angry and left). People rightfully do not like the way he left (mid-season while saying he wasn’t going to Bama even assuring ownership of it), but the results have followed Saban everywhere he has gone.