Coaching search beginning of the end for Browns brass

USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland was unable to land any of its top head coach candidates, a failure that Peter King reports led to the firing of CEO Joe Banner and GM Michael Lombardi.

The Cleveland Browns struggled mightily to find a head coach, getting turned down by at least three of their top candidates before finally settling for Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. It was that debacle of a coaching search that led to the firings of CEO Joe Banner and general manager Michael Lombardi, according to Peter King of Sports Illustrated.

Banner displayed a brusque, sometimes arrogant attitude that turned candidates away and team owner Jimmy Haslam eventually determined he was, as King terms, "a roadblock to success." King describes one scene in which Banner told Ken Whisenhunt — who was eventually hired by the Tennessee Titans — that the assistants he proposed to bring on were not "a championship coaching staff," a comment that perturbed Whishenhunt.

Banner also was reported to be "cold" during an interview with former Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano, who had grabbed Haslam's attention after a glowing recommendation from Bill Belichick.

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn each withdrew their names from the Browns' coaching search.

Haslam's announcement of the firings on Tuesday was at once shocking and expected in a way that only a Browns organization defined by instability can be. The very coaching search that led to the terminations was brought on by the firing of Rob Chudzinski, who got just one season in Cleveland before being canned. In the 17 months that Haslam has owned the team, he has fired two head coaches, two general managers, a CEO and a president. In total, he has employed 56 different coaches.

"There's no training manual for being an NFL owner," Haslam told King. "There's a steep learning curve to do it the right way, and I admit we didn't get it right at first. But I am determined to do it right, and to get the right people in place."

In reference to the brief residencies of Banner and Lombardi, Haslam explained:

"In my business career, most of the mistakes I've made come from not moving quickly enough when you know there's a tough decision to be made. The easy thing to do here would be to stay doing what you're doing, even when you feel like you need to change course.''

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