Editor's Note: The Browns are coming off another ugly and frustrating loss, and despite a more watchable brand of football this season, they appear to be headed towards the top of the NFL Draft again. But any attempts at improvement this time around will be done with some new faces at the top of the org chart. In a discussion with Brendan Porath, Martin Rickman delivers some quick thoughts on how the new owner and CEO should handle the transition.
Brendan: Joe Banner, who certainly seems intense, will start full-time this week with the Browns. Fans are excited about the combination of new owner Jimmy Haslam and Banner, but immediate attention turns to the status of Pat Shurmur and Tom Heckert. It seems like people are putting a lot of faith in Banner as he initiates the regime change.
Martin: Yeah, I hope he hires a football guy though. It would be great to have Banner, a draft guru and a cap genius as a brain trust.
What I like about Banner is that he offers a chance to revitalize a dying franchise, essentially. People take for granted that the Browns sell themselves, but they could be a national brand if they actually were successful and marketed better.
Brendan: Yes sir, completely agree. The topic of national and global branding came up at Banner's introductory press conference last week.
Martin: With the Steelers trending downward, now is the time for it.
Brendan: Hopefully, Banner is the cap guy and he gives the football reins to someone else.
Martin: That is what I don't get -- people freaking about him "making final decisions." Wouldn't that be expected? He's the boss.
Before, we had an owner who handed off any and all decisions to an end-all, be-all looming 'President' (who didn't exactly have the best judgment based on cronyism). I'd much rather see this be a chain of command where people are collaborating and communicating. There's been no cohesion since the Browns came back -- between Policy and Davis and Mangini and Holmgren, it's been micromanaged into an unrecognizable entity.
Brendan: It sounds like there will be that chain. I think people are genuinely worried about losing Heckert.
Martin: There are plenty of smart football people. Heckert isn't amazing, he's okay.
But because he's just okay in an organization filled with "awful," he seems better than that. He's made a couple decent picks, a couple no-brainer picks, a couple bad picks. He's completely average.
Brendan: That seems like a realistic assessment.
Martin: Poach the Steelers No. 2 draft guy, or the Ravens, or look at the 49ers -- hell, even the Seahawks would be a good place to start because they've been nailing every pick in the last three years.
Brendan: People are impressed with Heckert's moderate rate of return, or average rate.
Martin: Our long-standing streak of average-to-bad picks in the 2nd-4th rounds and propensity to try and find gems rather than the "sure thing" has hurt the Browns more often than not. So when you hit on one, it's like, "Great you found a gem, but you also missed out on drafting guys other teams salivated over."
This year was the perfect example of that. Sure, Billy Winn has been nice and John Hughes is better than expected, but you still reached for Hughes and reached for Mitchell Schwartz when there were higher valued players out there on 9 out of 10 teams' draft boards.
Either Heckert is overthinking things, missing the mark, or doesn't have the pulse of the rest of the league. But losing him is not my number one concern.
Brendan: What's your No. 1 concern? Or are you concern-free at this point, let Haslam go for a little bit.
Martin: I am going to let it play out for a bit but obviously my big concern is hiring the right people and not trying to hold onto any kind of "legacy" or give the existing regime too much "respect."
Cut ties and move on.
I want to make sure the players who are here and are evaluated get the proper shot, but that we don't have dead weight as well.