|Haslam doesn't sound like he's in a hurry to clean house in Cleveland. (AP)|
There may have been initial trepidation from skeptical Browns fans that new majority owner Jimmy Haslam also happened to be a minority investor in the rival Steelers. But those concerns should've been assuaged when, on Friday, Haslam spoke publicly about his plans to salvage an organization that has been equal parts hapless and hopeless since returning to the NFL in 1999.
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For starters, he has no plans to relocate the team. Haslam also said that he was "fired up to the max because we've had the opportunity to see how important football is to this community and how great and how passionate these fans are."
And while hope is something not usually associated with Browns' supporters, it's an emotion reserved for the offseason, when free agency, the draft and coaching changes offer the promise of something different. But the NFL season begins tonight, when the Cardinals and Saints square off in the Hall of Fame game. The time for wishful thinking has passed, and results are all that matter.
Haslam said Friday that his "style is going to be involved," and he wasted little time putting words into action. When he sat down with team president Mike Holmgren for the first time, Haslam dispensed with the chitchat. Instead, he got right to the point, asking Holmgren if the Browns' franchise quarterback is currently on the roster. (Given that Cleveland used the 22nd pick of the 2012 draft on a 27-year-old QB, this must've elicited some look from Holmgren.)
"The first question I asked (Holmgren)," Haslam told the Canton Repository's Steve Doerschuk, "was, ‘Can Brandon Weeden play?' To win in the NFL, you have to have a quarterback. OK? So the question is, can Brandon Weeden play?”
Holmgren's response: “He said, ‘Yeah. He can throw the ball. He can throw the ball. He can play.'"
CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora has pointed out that with Haslam now in charge, the futures of Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert are unclear. Joe Banner, the former Eagles' president, will join Haslam in Cleveland although sources tell La Canfora that it's not a sure thing that he will reprise that role with the Browns.
Haslam didn't say anything to Doerschuk about the job security of the front-office execs or head coach Pat Shurmur, but noted that if there's a reasonable definition of progress this season it's "very fair" to suggest that the current regime will be retained. (It's not clear how Haslam defines progress, but Drew Carey would be happy with .500 football).
Weeden exceeding expectations would boost the chances of Holmgren, Heckert and Shurmur sticking around. The former Oklahoma State star has had a solid camp but it's going to take a lot more than that to impress Haslam. We'll see Weeden in his first preseason action this Friday when the Browns face the Lions.
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