Some more details are starting to trickle out about the upheaval in the Browns organization this morning in which Mike Lombardi and Joe Banner were ousted after just one and 1.5 years on the job, respectively. Assistant GM Ray Farmer was promoted to Lombardi’s previous role, and Haslam says that Banner’s position will be “streamlined”.
Though this move seems quite abrupt, Farmer voluntarily bowed out of the Dolphins GM search last week. He said that “change was on the horizon” and didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to “redefine the record books,” which appeared as obligatory lip service at the time, but seems telling in retrospect. (For what it’s worth, Farmer has denied that’s the case.)
Still, despite the fact that this move appears to have been planned for at least a little while, Farmer was apparently not intimately involved in the team’s recent prolonged coaching search:
What does #Browns upheaval mean for the future of Mike Pettine? Source says new GM Ray Farmer wasn’t present during head coach interviews
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 11, 2014
Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam, during his press conference, just confirmed this, but added that Farmer and a few others “played a key role” in the search. “Background check, information gathering, and Ray played a key role in that,” he said.
As an interesting aside, Rapoport also notes that prior to hiring Pettine the Browns secretly interviewed Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen, who then received a raise from the university in late January. Football Scoop added that Andersen had “informal” discussions with the Browns, but “no real interview.”
And, again, even though Farmer was seemingly aware that this was in the works last week, this was shocking news to almost everyone else. ESPN Cleveland beat writer Tony Grossi was “stunned” and those inside the team’s building were reportedly similarly shocked:
#Browns source told said org had a meeting in morn. Haslam walked in, announced Banner & Lombardi were gone & walked back out. Dead silence
— Will Burge (@WillBurge) February 11, 2014
The continued organizational dysfunction comes during a period in which there’s still a decent chance that team owner Jimmy Haslam gets federally indicted for presiding over his company Pilot Flying J’s systematic theft from its customers. During his press conference today, Haslam declined to discuss that situation and pretended that his season ticketholders were psyched about the team’s direction.
Haslam probably wasn’t thrilled that Banner and Lombardi failed to land Chip Kelly last offseason — Banner said at the time that he thought Kelly was “too big a gamble” to offer him the job — and their purported first choice, Josh McDaniels, this year.
If the numerous reports that the Browns covet Johnny Manziel were and remain true — Farmer himself scouted the Aggies’ game versus Alabama in September, but there were a lot of other potential pros in that game, too — that would be unfortunate. Being a sports fan and blogger in a world where Manziel actually has a chance to succeed would be infinitely more preferable.
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