Joe Banner sounds good but will have to prove it for Browns fans

Banner and HaslamLike him, trust him, or not, Joe Banner has said all the right things so far as CEO of the Cleveland Browns. His Q&A with Clark Judge of CBS yesterday was just more proof of Banner’s self-confidence and willingness to espouse the Cleveland Browns as a defining project in his career and life. I can remember a time when an interview like that would have had the Cleveland Browns fan base absolutely giddy. I don’t get the sense that Browns fans have that in them anymore.

Joe Banner’s even been perfect in not asking for the full faith and support of Cleveland Browns fans. He’s preferred to fill in any voids that used to be filled with pleas for patience with statements about accountability. That’s really the best answer anyway. Any fans who’ve put their “faith” in a football team in Cleveland since 1999 have been disappointed.

Plus, if we’ve learned nothing in Cleveland since 1999 it’s to put our sports and entertainment choices in proper perspective. This isn’t life, death, family, job or our deity of choice, so proof is far more valuable than faith. Where patience and faith used to go hand-in-hand for many Browns fans, if there’s any patience left it’s constantly being tamped down by paranoia and a now-raging demand for results. And Banner isn’t shying away from any of it.

He even went so far as to attack the plans of many previous regimes, if somewhat generically to keep from naming names. “Everybody talked about a long term plan,” banner told Clark Judge, “but when’s the last time the team traded for a future draft pick?” With that statement banner is somewhat defending the previous regime that traded out of Julio Jones for last year’s draft, but he isn’t so kind in other areas.

Banner continued, “it doesn’t make much sense to invest in 31-and-32-year-old players,” when building a Super Bowl-caliber team, Banner seems to be speaking directly to moves that might cause a team to try and count on a player like Scott Fujita who was already 31 by the time he suited up for the Browns for the first time in a regular season game in 2010. Without guaranteeing success in their latest round of free agency, it at least attempts to project clear confidence in the Browns’ off-season free agency spend on 26 and 27 year-olds as opposed to more “experienced” free agents.

All the while Banner claims that the team will be markedly improved on the field this year even as they’re not ready to compete for Super Bowls right now. These are the kinds of empty promises that his very different predecessor claimed last year when Mike Holmgren spoke of a “big jump” that never materialized for the Shurmur-led team of a year ago.

So, where does this all leave Browns fans? Not-so-patiently demanding seems to be the right way to put it. Gone are the days of anyone agreeing to “buy-in” to anyone who takes up residence in Berea without seeing something tangible in the win column. Gone are the days where Browns fans sit around wondering if maybe a coach can improve over a dismal first year performance. Gone is the idea that hope is a plan.

I’m sure many Browns fans are somewhat encouraged by what Joe Banner says and how they’ve handled their business thus far this off-season, but I don’t get the sense that anyone has in this fan-base has put him on the savior pedestal like Mike Holmgren was placed on. In a way there’s an unfortunate loss of innocence that goes along with a defense mechanism reaction of just expecting the worst.

I can’t help but think maybe it’s especially unfortunate timing. Joe Banner really does sound like a guy who knows what he’s doing. Maybe he is finally the guy that should get the full faith and trust of Cleveland Browns fans. Unlike some of his predecessors though, he’s going to have to earn it.

  • i’ve got a problem with his “when’s the last time the team traded for a future draft pick?” quote. i mean.. are you kidding joe?? sanchez? jujones?

    sometimes too much self-confidence is a bad thing.

    all i’ve seen from banner is that he’s setting the bar as low as possible and framing it as ‘responsible re-building plan’ and asking for a pass from us for a couple years.

    sure a lot of us accept this because there’s really no choice is there? but the team isn’t that far away; it suffered from remarkably bad coaching last year. i dont buy punting this draft. i dont buy being last in payroll. i dont buy the ‘analytics’ thing until he tells us what exactly that means (which he has refused to do). and i sure dont buy his interest in having assembling focus groups to create a new energetic forward-looking logo.

    anyways.., i’ve got what amounts to a counter point to your post up here if anyone wants to take a look.

  • We need to have a long talk to sort all this out, but let’s get to analytics first.

    Analytics isn’t like a software package you buy and drop into your network and it makes everyone different. It’s something that has to be integrated and worked in over time. I get that nobody should ask for patience on the football field because this team shouldn’t be that far away, but hold off on all your analytics smashing for now, OK?

    Scheiner and his crew just arrived where the scouts were left over from Tom Heckert and the GM and assistant GM were hired within the past 8 months while the CEO is coming from a completely different organization. While I think I even agree to some of the fears about the Browns’ selection for Cornerback this year, the ranting about analytics is coming off a bit petulant.

    It’s like if you decided to start dieting tomorrow to lose 30 pounds and then bitched at lunch time that very next day that you hadn’t lost any weight yet.

  • mgbode

    the only thing with the analytics is that I want them to be utilizing every possible statistical method to make the team better, but I also don’t want them to reveal any of it publicly (as even high level thoughts could cause the lightbulb on that area for other teams). it’s supposed to be dark room secret stuff.

    as with our other teams, all that matters in the end is the product on the field. the good news is that we will not have a 1st or 2nd year player starting at 7 positions on offense like we did last year (QB, RB, WR1, WR2, WR3, RT, RG). That five game opening we had was rather predictable.

    the bad news is that we do have a bunch of new coaches/schemes and many new players that all have to come together in a short amount of time. this is why the flux is so detrimental to long-term success (as we all know). on defense, we will likely have 4 new starters (CB2, OLB1, OLB2*, DE). on offense, it is a bit more stable as we’ll only likely have 2 new starters (WR3-Bess and TE-Cameron).

    *okay, Sheard may start, but I suspect the ‘next’ player whether it be Groves or Mingo plays just as many snaps

  • i actually am in the Big Data business selling and supporting data warehousing appliances and their databases mainly in the finserv vert. so there’s that.

    i doubt the browns are doing risk management modeling the same way multi-billion dollar hedge funds are and if they are, i would sure like to know why. frankly they’re positioning it as a [sort-of] panacea while at the same not telling us where they’re going to use it or how.

    here’s scheiner’s work at the sloan conf. i just want to know how any of it translates to making a better football team. thus far all we _really_ know is that scheiner helped jerry jones put in the scoreboard and that he’s not allowed in the draft room.

    i dont think i’m ranting about it. i’m challenging those that view it as some new-found wisdom. i know you went to the boston conf and like any good trade show came away with a healthy dose of kool-aid.

    but thus far all we’ve got to show for having ‘smart guys’ on staff is a really short d-backfield and unused salary cap monies. maybe i’m the only one, but absent an explanation, this seems … not smart.

  • Like I said, we should have a longer conversation about it. Podcast? 🙂

  • Hopwin

    Well said.

  • Hopwin

    So your argument (AGAIN) is yet more patience?

  • haha, sure. writing is easy tho, talking is hard.

  • NeedsFoodBadly

    What about investing in youth? That seems smart.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    The proof is in the pudding and frankly at least for me talk is cheap. The forecasting and predicting is getting old just show it on the field already. That being said Banner has to say something reassuring I get that it’s just been said repeatedly before the past 13 years. Unlike past regimes I kinda like this coaching staff. For me that’s what I’m leaning on with hopes that we once again see some real true football.

  • ennh. not when done to this extreme. ie, out of 86 names on the roster, here’s who’s 29 or older:
    Jackson D’Qwell
    Weeden Brandon
    Butler Rashad
    Campbell Jason
    Graham Shayne

    five out of 86. you kidding me?

    carrying that much ‘youth’ is really a punt of 2013 is it not? in particular when youre 32nd in cap space used.

    i could buy the argument about getting playing time for young players and that’s why we didn’t sign a guard or cornerback or free safety IF i believed that the FO thought lauvao, skrine, gipson were the long term pieces they want to develop. but i don’t think even think the FO believes that.

  • Not on the field just with regard to the analytics thing. This team should be in the 7-8 win ballpark this year or better. Not a game worse.

  • mgbode

    I would venture that most teams players 54-86 are youngsters with upside. So, really it’s 5 out of 53 (as I do believe all of those 5 are within the expected 53). still a bit extreme for my tastes, yes.

    I do agree with you that we could have / should have done more in FA. Particularly at DB.

  • NeedsFoodBadly

    Better that then 5 out of 86 being over 29.

    If we’re going to talk extreme, I’d say it’s extreme to pre-emptively describe the entire 2013 season as a punt, let alone the draft itself. I imagine the team will actually go go out there and play 16 games and fight pretty hard to win games.

    What they’re not going to do is fix the entire roster in two months.

    Free agency isn’t over and this roster isn’t finalized. Kerry Rhodes is still out there.

  • BenRM

    To be honest, I don’t buy that this draft was “punted.”

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    The fact that Kerry Rhodes is still out there speaks for itself. The problem with fixing the roster is because of all of the coaching changes. You can’t change schemes every three years and expect to compete which is why I don’t get anyone with the team making any public expectations. For me that’s just setting you up for trouble.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Me either entirely but what they did is kind of curious. We’ll know more a year from now when we see what they do with their second draft.

    Btw anyone else hate the draft being pushed back three weeks? As of it wasn’t long enough between the end of the SB and the draft. On top of this I still say Goodell wants an 18 game schedule. The NFL is trying to make themselves a 12 month entertainment force.

  • The date of the draft would mean significantly less if this team could manage to win more than 5 games a season.

  • zonk

    Then why does Vegas have the line at 5?