BEREA - Hope springs eternal once again for the Browns.
It's not the first time a major shakeup at or near the top of the organization has created a sense of optimism. From ownership changes, to the introduction of a new general manager to another head coach taking control, there's always the sense that good times are around the corner.
Joe Banner becomes the latest in a line of life lines extended to the fan base. The former Philadelphia Eagles president was introduced as the Browns president Wednesday by owner James Haslam III.
Banner spent 19 seasons in the Eagles' front office, including 12 as president. During Banner's tenure in Philadelphia, the Eagles posted a 162-124-2 record and made the playoffs 11 times. They won six NFC East Division titles, advanced to the NFC Championship Game five times and advanced to the Super Bowl once.
Having watched from a distance the futility experienced by the Browns since 1999, Banner was cautious not to promise fans too much hope.
"I want to be careful," Banner said. "I know these fans have been through a lot of hopeful starts. I don't want to sit up here and be the next promiser in their lives. We're just going to have to deliver. No one will work harder or have a clearer direction.
"I don't imagine anyone can have more of a sense of the appreciation of the history of the fans of this city. It's remarkable when you look at the last 18 to 20 years of the passion, intensity and still filling the stadium. We're going to work as hard as we possibly can to reward that with the best team on the field as we possibly can."
Banner didn't say that fans should wait five years to see progress. Once all the changes are in place, he expects to see signs of improvement
"I think fairly quickly people are going to see progress," Banner said. "If you're going to ask me to put a time frame on how quick we're going to win how many games, I can't do that. There are too many unknowns. I don't think it will be too long before you're sitting there saying, 'These guys are on the right track. They know what they're doing.' You'll start to realize there's a plan. Their priorities are exactly what they said they were."
In that line of thinking, Banner is right in line with Haslam, who brings a degree of energy and confidence that's been lacking for a long time.
"I don't think you're looking at two more impatient people in the world than the two of us," Haslam said. "At the same time we want to do it the right way. There's a shortcut to get to a 10-6, but there's a better way to do it so you don't have just one good year but you have a consistent. We're going to get there as fast as we can, but we're not going to take a shortcut."
The Eagles had remarkable consistency at the top during Banner's time with the team. Nowhere is that more evident than with head coach Andy Reid, who was hired in 1999.
It's doubtful that Banner and Haslam will be able to maintain continuity when they begin postseason evaluations across the board. Fans should be prepared for many changes, possibly including a new coach.
"I don't think you see any operation that is successful that doesn't have continuity," Banner said. "You have to pick the right time on continuity. So when you say you have the organization set up with the right people means you have continuity, but it doesn't mean you've had success. It means you're set up with the right people and the right vision."
The good news for coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert is that their jobs are safe for the rest of the season. That could change when January arrives. A report Wednesday stated that Heckert believes he won't be back next season.
Haslam had a reassuring talk with Shurmur last Saturday.
"I'm at peace with what happens at the end of the year," Shurmur said. "You play the season and then you're evaluated. I guess there are other things he could have told me."