Joe Banner, new Browns CEO, excited, optimistic about team

Jeff Schudel

Joe Banner says Browns fans won’t have to sit through another five-year plan now that another change at the top has become official.

Jimmy Haslam III, approved Tuesday as the Browns new owner by a unanimous vote of his peers in the NFL, introduced Banner as the new CEO to a room packed with reporters Wednesday morning at Browns headquarters in Berea.

Banner, like everyone who has sat in the big chair, talked about the importance of continuity. But he said that continuity cannot begin until he surrounds himself with his chosen people, and whether that group includes current General Manager Tom Heckert and Coach Pat Shurmur is something he isn’t ready to talk about.

The Browns have gone through four straight seasons in which they lost at least 11 games. They are 47-103 since the start of the 2003 season.

“I think fairly quickly people are going to see progress,” Banner said. “If you’re going to ask me to put a timeframe on how quickly we’re going to win how many games – I really can’t do that. There are too many unknowns. But I don’t think it should take very long before fans watching the team are saying, ‘You know what? These guys know what they’re doing. We’re on the right track. We’re going to enjoy this and we’re in a real good place.’ I think you’ll start to feel that reasonably quickly.’”

Banner was not talking about 2012. He won’t take over until a week from Thursday. By then the Browns will have played seven games with nine to play.

Haslam has said Shurmur and Heckert will be evaluated at the end of the season. Interestingly, Banner was involved in hiring Andy Reid in Philadelphia before Reid was well-known. He will run the football end of the Browns, so if there are changes, it doesn’t mean Banner will want to make a big splash with a coach like Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden.

“I don’t think (you’ll find) two more impatient people in the world than the two guys up here,” Haslam said. “At the same time, we want to do it the right way. There’s not a shortcut to get to 10-6. We want to be judged on whether we’re consistently good. We want to go as fast as we can, but we’re not going to take shortcuts.”

The Browns are in the third year of Mike Holmgren’s five-year plan. They are 10-28 since Holmgren was named president in 2010. Holmgren will retire after the current season. The plan calls for him to help Banner in the transition.

Contact Jeff Schudel at [email protected].