Browns fire Shurmur, Heckert

Posted Dec. 31, 2012 @ 9:52 a.m.
Posted By PFW staff

The Browns fired head coach Pat Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert, the team announced Monday.

Cleveland finished the season 5-11 after Sunday’s loss to the Steelers, its fifth season in a row with five wins or fewer. Shurmur finishes his two seasons as the Browns’ head coach with a record of 9-23. Heckert was the GM for the past three seasons.

New owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner were expected to clean house, and it was reported Saturday night that the decisions would come down on Monday. Haslam bought the team in August and Banner, the former Eagles executive, took his post in October. The following are statements from Banner, Haslam, Heckert and Shurmur, as released by the club.

“We felt that these moves were in the best interests of the Cleveland Browns and our future,” said Haslam. “I enjoyed getting to know Tom and Pat over the past several months, and want to thank them, not just for their contributions to the Browns, but also the insight they were able to provide. They are both fine men and hope they have the best of success as they move forward with their careers.”

Banner: “This decision was not an easy one because of my relationship with Tom and Pat and the fact that they are both quality people. Ultimately our objective is to put together an organization that will be the best at everything we do. On the field, our only goal is trying to win championships. I have a great deal of respect for Tom and Pat, and I want to wish them and their families nothing but the best.”

Heckert: “I leave the Browns feeling very good about many of the things we accomplished here and the direction in which I believe this team is headed. Having been around this franchise growing up, I was really excited for the opportunity to come here three years ago, and I want to thank Randy Lerner and Mike Holmgren for making that possible. I also want to acknowledge many of the hard-working people in the Browns organization, especially our player personnel staff, who are outstanding at what they do and supported me immensely in my role. I wish the team nothing but the best as they move forward.”

Shurmur: “I am extremely proud of the players on this team, who I felt made tremendous strides and helped to make the Cleveland Browns relevant again. I want to thank them, as well as my entire coaching staff for making the past two years enjoyable. My coaches are outstanding teachers and even better men. They helped me lead these players through a unique time of transition. This group of players will achieve success soon, and there will be a part of me that will feel very good when that happens.

“I want to thank Randy Lerner, Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert for bringing me in and having the faith in me to lead this football team. I am disappointed that we did not win more games, but I do know the Browns are on their way to becoming a consistent winner. I appreciated the time spent with Jimmy (Haslam) and Joe (Banner), and wish them all the best as they provide a new vision for the Cleveland Browns.”

The way we see it

When news broke that Randy Lerner would be selling the club, Shurmur and Heckert no longer had the luxury of time. Suddenly, head coach and general manager needed their young team to take a big leap forward. Alas, the Browns weren’t ready to make such progress. A slow start left the Browns at the back of the brutal AFC North, and as the weeks passed, it became clear that neither Shurmur nor Heckert was likely to earn a reprieve from the club’s new management team.

Heckert’s biggest accomplishment was turning over the roster. Today, the Browns are one of the youngest teams in the NFL. The Browns’ revamped front office does not have to start from scratch. However, the Browns still have the division’s weakest offense, and it’s unclear whether the new regime will keep QB Brandon Weeden as the starter. Nevertheless, Heckert methodically improved the talent in Cleveland. Should the evaluators replacing him win big with the core of the current roster in place, Heckert’s tenure will be viewed all the more favorably.

In another era, Shurmur might have gotten a third season as head coach. The Browns are a painfully young team, and Shurmur himself surely had some growing to do as a head coach. Were Lerner and team president Mike Holmgren still in charge, Shurmur might have received another chance. Instead, Shurmur exits with a 9-23 record in two seasons in Cleveland. Shurmur’s teams generally played hard, but the wins were too few, and the offense was too punchless. Shurmur occasionally struggled with game management. Here was a coach who could have used more seasoning. Alas, he will not get that chance in Cleveland, which will hire its sixth full-time head coach since 1999.