Hours after sweeping CEO Joe Banner and general manager Michael Lombardi out the door, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam faced the media Tuesday to unpack the latest overhaul in Cleveland.
Aware that his team is perceived by some as a constantly churning clown car, Haslam dismissed the notion that the organization has sunk into complete dysfunction.
"I will just tell you that the people I talked to around the country do not think this isn't an outstanding opportunity here in Cleveland, whether it's to coach, play or work," Haslam said. "And I continue to hear that."
Simultaneously, the Browns are the first NFL team to fire both their head coach and general manager after just one season on the job, according to ESPN.
Aware of how it all looks to the fans and larger football community, Haslam insisted: "I will accept comments and criticism about change. There is no primer for being an NFL owner. It is learn-as-you-go."
Here's what else we heard from Haslam and the team's newly appointed general manager, Ray Farmer:
- Haslam acknowledged that the previous front office setup was "cumbersome," sharing that "Joe and I mutually agreed that it was best for the organization if we streamline things." Haslam said the team won't hire another CEO, meaning Banner effectively talked himself out of a job if we're to believe the owner's version of events.
- Haslam graciously lauded Banner and Lombardi, but his words also pointed to tangible differences between the trio. Asked about Banner's comments last month, when he admitted he was disappointed that the Browns didn't stage a second interview with Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Haslam said point blank: "I was really committed to (Mike) Pettine."
- Haslam also dismissed the notion that Cleveland was turned down by a handful of coaching candidates, but it was more about what the owner wouldn't reveal:
- Asked why Lombardi is on the street after just one season on the job, Haslam shifted the focus to Farmer, saying: "We feel that Ray is the best person to handle the personnel side of our organization." The Browns clearly weren't comfortable with Lombardi shepherding the team's 10 NFL draft picks in May after so many of last year's selections barely saw the field.
- NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that Farmer wasn't part of any coaching interviews, but the new general manager spoke of his "really good relationship with Mike Pettine," adding that he's "excited about the opportunity" and believes they'll work together well. We'd argue the more streamlined front office ultimately looms as a plus for the new coach.
- Farmer confirmed that he'll maintain final say over the 53-man roster, but talked about drawing input from Pettine and his coordinators to import the type of players who will succeed in Cleveland's system. Whispers out of Berea suggest that Banner didn't give the coaching staff that kind of voice a season ago.
- When Farmer was asked if Banner stood out as a smart personnel man, he paused -- for long seconds -- before saying: "Joe is a football guy; he would classify himself as a non-traditional football guy and I'd say that's a good representation."
- Farmer insisted he wasn't cowed by the team's recent history of obsessively cleaning house. "It doesn't bother me one iota. I'm going to do what I'm supposed to do," he said, adding: "My involvement with Jimmy Haslam is ... he is a reasonable man."
On the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the guys talk Michael Sam, potential big-name cap casualties and offseason forecasts for the Steelers and Jaguars.