October 22, 2014

Elyria
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Browns will hire coach before GM; owner Jimmy Haslam looking for “right” guys

BEREA – Just a couple of hours after firing the general manager and coach he inherited, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said late this morning he was “ready to move on” in his search for replacements.

Haslam, sitting next to CEO Joe Banner, said the Browns will hire a head coach first and then look for someone to lead the personnel department.

“We’re well aware this has been a carousel,” Haslam said. “Our job is to find the right coach and GM and bring stability to the organization.”

Coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert were fired the morning after the season-ending loss in Pittsburgh. The Browns went 5-11 in 2012, and Haslam said the decisions to make changes came in the last two weeks.

Banner said hiring the next coach is the priority because of the organizational structure he and Haslam chose. The coach will have greater say over the roster and influence within the football department than the next GM/director of player personnel.

Haslam and Banner wouldn’t discuss potential coaching candidates but said they’ll consider all avenues, including college, former NFL head coaches and current NFL assistants. Banner said there’s no preference between an offensive or defensive coach.

“They key is getting the right person,” Haslam said.

He added the most important quality is strong leadership.

There could be more than 10 coaching vacancies across the league, but Banner is confident the Browns offer a desirable situation and will be able to land a top candidate.

The interviews will start immediately and the desire is to make a hire as soon as possible. But there’s no timetable and Haslam repeatedly said they would wait for the right person if necessary. An assistant from a Super Bowl team wouldn’t be available until February.

Banner wouldn’t discuss specifics of the roster but said the team is headed in the right direction.

“The foundation is here, the team is better, but we have a ways to go,” he said. “The right hire could accelerate that.

“We have a core here, and I’d be surprised if the coach we hire doesn’t see it the same way.”

The rest of the coaching staff remains under contract. They will be allowed to interview for other jobs, but the next coach may want to retain some.

The scouting staff is still under contract and will continue on the job.

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