Prep notes for Joe Banner’s next podcast.


The Browns uniform focus group also recommended Joe get a scruffy half-beard.

Joe Banner has created a twitter account in a transparent bid to be noticed and then hired by some media outlet.  No doubt it will work as he brings just the right mix of insider crap and non-information to be as useless as same as 90% of national media types.

1. Obsequious Goodell praise, check.

2. Captain Obvious statement while at same time ignoring his own more interesting intersection and fail with the tweet’s subject, check.

3. More Captain Obvious.

4.  Straw man set up and knocked down, check. (Did anyone anywhere ever ‘rip’ Joe Banner for cutting Patterson?  Not that I remember.)

5. And of course the courageous obligatory piling on Richie Incognito.

This from the guy who traded out of the 4th and 5th round in 2013 and went to war with Sean Lauvao.

Oh yes, he’ll get a gig and he’ll fit right in.

And he’ll do podcasts.  But he won’t do my podcast because here’s what I’d be asking about his well-documented punting of the Browns’ 2013 season.

Dear Joe,

I see you hopped on the Ross Tucker podcast.  But there remain still a lot of unanswered questions concerning your time in Cleveland.  As it appears you’re on a path toward football redemption and seemingly bidding to become the newest in a long list of unemployed front office types working for media outlets, perhaps you would like to share with your potential audience a fuller understanding of your maneuvers while Browns CEO-GM-lobbyist-faceofthebrowns.  We’re looking for clarifications mind you.  But it is a useful exercise because the prevailing opinion of your tenure here is … not positive.  Here’s your chance to set things straight.

Cap wizardry.
Could've signed a genuine QB with the cap room Heckert left.

Could’ve signed a genuine QB with the cap room Heckert left.

When you were hired you were heralded as a salary cap guy.  But you inherited $40M in cap space from Tom Heckert whose plan was obviously to use it to build a deeper roster in 2013.  Instead you sat on the cap space and when you were fired, Ray Farmer had approximately the same amount of cap you inherited.

  • Why do you claim credit for leaving the team in good cap space when you simply maintained the status quo ante established by Tom Heckert?
  • Why did you fire Tom Heckert?  Was it a ‘want my own guys’ thing?  Why is that sort of hiring practice (cronyism) ok?
  • You let Alex Mack play out his contract in spite of having never missed a start and in a year when he was clearly the top UFA FA.  I read that you wanted him to prove it.  Wasn’t that just dumb?  At the end, it appeared that Alex Mack would not have signed with the Browns under any circumstances if you were associated with the team, true or false?  What did you make of most Berea hopping on Haslam’s jet within hours of your firing to visit Mack and persuade him to stay… basically cleaning up the mess you made?  Did that also position the team for future success?
Business affairs.
The height of Banner's tone-deafness captured in one media event.

The height of Banner’s tone-deafness captured in one media event.

It was always unclear here whether you were a business guy dabbling in football or a football guy dabbling in both or simply a frustrated interior designer with a curious fondness for lots of orange in your office space.

Talent eval and acquisition.

We never understood the plan or the timeframe for execution of the plan or even if there really was a plan.  From here, the plan seemed to be junk everything that worked from the previous regime and then buy more time.  It’s the only explanation for your free agency signings, drafting, and coaching ‘moves.’  But perhaps you can shed some light.

  • The 2013 offseason needs were obvious:  CB2, FS, ILB, OLB, OG, WR1, WR2, TE, FB.  Of these position groups you addressed only OLB in free agency.  A free agency where the Browns were consistently in the best cap space of anyone in the league.  Why didn’t you sign players in positions of need?
  • Not broken. Don't fix.

    Not broken. Don’t fix.

    The Browns front four was the strength of the team in 2012.  Rubin-Taylor-Sheard-Rucker1 with Winn, Hughes, Kitchen behind them.  Meanwhile the linebacking corps was Jackson, Maiava, Gocong (a real need).  You decided to reduce the number of linemen (existing strength) and increase the number of linebackers.  You spend the vast majority of your offseason resources addressing the strongest part of the team — Kruger, Bryant, Mingo.

    • Why did you fail to recognize the talent on the front four?
    • Who were you bidding against for Paul Kruger?
    • Desmond Bryant had a known heart condition before you signed him and missed the better part of last year due to it.  Did you just ignore the medical report?  Did you at least use it to lever some cost savings on his contract?
The 2013 Draft.

The draft deserves its own section.  You were actually on that podcast touting your Armonty Bryant pick, weren’t you?  Lol.  You maybe forgot the rest of the 2013 draft or hoped that we have.  We haven’t.

He's very thin for a sixth overall DE. That's all we're saying.

He’s very thin for a sixth overall DE. That’s all we’re saying.

Management acumen.
OBrien found cleaning up the Paterno aftermath preferable to working for Joe Banner.

OBrien found cleaning up the Paterno aftermath preferable to working for Joe Banner.

For a CEO, a “well-respected football man,” it sure seemed like other football men didn’t want to work for you.  We’ll get to the coaching search after the Chud fiasco but cripes, even the Chud hire was difficult for you.  Chip Kelly, Doug Marrone, Bill OBrien, Josh McDaniels, Marc Trestman, Bruce Ariens, Ken Whisenhunt, Greg Roman, Mike McCoy (and more) were linked to you before you finally got Chud to accept an offer.  Your powers of persuasion are apparently not strong.  No that’s not a question either.

  • Having fired the men you hired less than a year earlier for failing to win in a year where your goal was to get positioned for 2014, were you surprised when A-list coaching candidates weren’t eager to return your calls?
  • How’d the first Whisenhunt interview compare to the second one?
  • How’d that Norv Turner exit interview go?
  • Did you find it ironic that you met your demise in the same way that Chud met his?  Hoisted by your own petard to paraphrase Shakespeare?
  • Speaking of coaching hires, what exactly happened in the Chip Kelly interview?  I have heard from people I trust that Kelly simply didn’t want to work for you due to your abrasive way.  (Given your treatment of Chud, it’s hard to say Kelly was wrong.)  Is this true?  Did you and Chip Kelly simply not get along in your meeting?  Because it must have been really awkward to jet out with Haslam for publicized meeting and to present him a blank check and then be turned down.
  • In 2014, you interviewed or were reportedly interested in speaking with Ben McAdoo, Todd Bowles, Dan Quinn, Mike Munchak, Josh McDaniels, Ken Whisenhunt, Adam Gase, Dirk Koetter prior even to talking with Mike Pettine. Yet you have also mentioned something about positioning the Browns for success in 2014 blah, blah, blah in the Tucker interview or tweet.  How does firing a rookie head coach without a firm replacement in place position a team for success in the next year? Isn’t it more likely that you yourself were angling for a reset on the old ‘three year window’ that most GMs get?

That’ll do it Joe, thanks for stopping by.  Remarkably, your rehabilitation seems to be in full flower.  I’ve no doubt you’ll be able to find work in the media.  But hey, if Mike Lombardi can do it… amirite?

  1. Yes, Frostee Rucker.  Not horrible.  Check him this year as a starter with Cards and see. [back]

18 Responses

  1. Dan Whalen says:

    this is hilariously accurate.

    Also fair to note that if Cheddar playoffs started today, I’d be in. Quite the accomplishment, considering my essay blunder/debacle and last year’s epic (read: awful) performance.

  2. Following this weekend’s roster cut downs, be interesting to hear Banner’s take on blowing a third-round pick on Leon McFadden. Quite the impressive draft he and Lombardi put together in their one year together.

  3. kammm says:

    New reader here. And I am hooked. Just brilliance.

  4. Bluedog93 says:

    One more question for Banner: Bruce Ariens was the reigning coach of the year and wanted to coach in Cleveland specially because he wanted to beat Pittsburgh twice a year. Why didn’t you hire him?

  5. Dave Kolonich says:

    Kanick, this is probably your finest work since the Modell piece.

    Whenever I see Leon McFadden flail his arms, run headfirst into a WR and draw a flag, I’m reminded of how worthless the entirety of 2013 truly was. As I’ve said a dozen times, NFL teams are only as good as their last 4-5 drafts. This is why the Browns are at best a 6-10 team (look again at Heckert’s 2012 draft) and why the 2013 draft (the one where Banner and Lombardi simply weren’t prepared – hence no trade down) will set this team back in another 3-4 years.

    And naturally, Banner will ooze back into relevance – probably around the time the Browns begin to recover from the damage he caused.

  6. Bluedog93 says:

    Here’s the thing: “Showing improvement over the short term” is not the antonym of “Improving over the long term.” In fact, more often than not, the first is a sign of the second, and the second doesn’t happen without the first.

    Banner always claimed to have a long term plan, and I never believed him, and I still don’t. A plan requires: (a) a clearly defined, objectively measurable standard for success; (b) a deadline; and (c) intermediate steps for progressing to (a) by (b) so that progress can be evaluated.

    In other words “We want to have a team that is a consistent contender” is a hope, not a plan or an objective. A plan would have been “we want to play in the Super Bowl in four years. By the end of the first year, we want to either know that we have the quarterback who can take us there or know that we have to draft him in the first round. By year two, we should be a .500 team with a top ten defense. By year three, we should be in the playoffs and with a +15 turnover ratio.” Now, you don’t have to hit every one of these intermediate steps, but you know that if you don’t you have to review your own performance and expectations and make appropriate adjustments in your plan.

    I never saw any sign that this was what Banner and Lombardi were doing. That’s why it was a surprise when Lombardi chose to leak to his friends in the national media on the morning of the Steelers game that Chud would be fired: because everybody thought they had a plan, and that that plan was to punt on the 2013 season and use the improved positioning in the 2014 draft to add players. Surprise, Coach Chud! You were actually expected to win 7 games with the roster they have you. Anyone else wonder if he would have been such an enthusiastic defender of the Trent Richardson trade if that objective had been part of the long-term plan all along?

    Now this isn’t about the 2013 draft trades, the Richardson trade, the 2014 draft, or the pathetic end to the 2013 season. All of these would have been defensible in themselves if they were part of a defined long-term plan. What this is about is the fact that the behavior of Banner’s front office never showed that they were following a long-term plan, or adjusting a long-term plan in response to new events. Rather, Banner was pushing off, as far as possible, all efforts to hold the performance of the team as reflective of his performance in his job. We’re building for the future! We’re gathering assets for future drafts! And anyway, it’s all the coaches’ fault! And by “it’s the coaches’ fault, I mean ‘don’t ask who hired them!'” Banner had set up a “plan” under which he could never be evaluated a failure, because there was never a deadline and never an objective for success or failure. And that’s why he didn’t have a plan.

  7. Tron says:

    Speaking of the Berea headquarters renovation, weren’t all those inspirational quotes attributed to the wrong people? I think that’s the best example of who this guy is.

  8. Petefranklin says:

    Did Chip Kelly refuse to work with you because you insisted that you were to be in final control of player personnel? No? OK then did you agree to defer some, or all, of the draft’s player evaluation to Kelly if he was hired? Yes??? BULLSHIT!

  9. mgbode says:

    If the goal of 2013 was to set things up for the future, how does that square with firing the coaching staff for failing to win enough games in 2013?

    this cannot be said enough times and pretty much undercuts any semblence of a plan by the Banner/Lombardi triumvirate (yes, I know. the 3rd is their collective ego).

    • mgbode says:

      But hey, if Mike Lombardi can do it… amirite?

      and I was fully expecting this punchline from the moment I read the title. you do not disappoint.

  10. It’s amazing how when Banner talks to media types they all have amnesia about what occurred during his watch in Cleveland. It’s good to know this is out in the public domain.

  11. zarathustra says:

    “Why did you fire Tom Heckert? ”
    Joe: Great question. I worked with Tom for a decade or so in Philly so he actually qualifies as one of my cronies, no? He’s a super swell guy but in working with him closely over the years I harbored serious doubts he would ever be more than a mediocre gm. Nothing in his three year tenure allayed my concerns. (As I sidenote I find it quite odd that my barely 12 month tenure is judged more harshly than his three years of bumbling around with his long-time crony coach shurmur. It is particularly amusing that you would criticize me for practicing cronyism in the same sentence as the gm from the preceding regime. ) You would be very hard-pressed to find another gm with three years on the job with the same lack of success who has earned a fourth year, but I am certainly open to examples to the contrary. He frittered away draft picks, had zero quality free-agent acquistions, did not come even close to identifying a quality starting qb in three years, and the team never won more than five games.
    Feel free to disagree with my assessment, but I find it hard to fathom how one could believe Heckert merited a fourth year, but I didn’t deserve a second.

  12. technivore says:

    Other than Dmitri Patterson’s entourage, who the hell was upset when Dmitri Patterson got cut?

    Great, great stuff kanick.

  13. Mad_Elf says:

    Give him Hell, you magnificent bastard! If I see one more schmuck point out how he left us with such a great cap and draft, I’m going to start freaking. That jerk set us back for years to come, but let’s all “clap clap clap” for skipping a draft, you monkey heathens! HORSESHIT!

    • actovegin1armstrong says:

      Elf, jk, I certainly wish that you gentleman would feel free to express yourselves. Stop holding back. How do you really feel about Banner?
      A masterful job jk!

  1. August 21, 2015

    […] on (followed by my most charitable read on the question).  They’re a lot different from the last pretend interview I did with […]

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