AN OPEN LETTER TO JOE BANNER
I appreciate your reading this in it’s entirety. Nice of you to agree to do that. Now I am very aware of your immense IQ and the fact your ego demands that I acknowledge you know more football in the tip of your little finger than I know in my whole body. I know that I am simply a “fan” and can’t possibly fathom the depth of thought used by yourself and Lombardi to make decisions. But, as a season ticket holder, I do have a vested interest in your decisions and what effect they have on my family, friends and wallet. I know this is hard to accept for someone as superior as yourself but fans are necessary to the success of the NFL. If you don’t have fans, you don’t have a team or a league. So maybe you can agree that we are not completely meaningless slugs, just nearly meaningless.
As a fan and season ticket holder, I would like to hear the complete truth instead of just the truth you want to spew to the media and fans. So, for the sake of clarity, let me read this thing back to you. Correct me where I am wrong. First, you sold Jimmy Haslim on yourself by professing how you would build this awesome team better than anyone else could. Even though you were let go in Philadelphia because you had no reasonable experience in player acquisition and team building. After that you brought in one of the most infamous front office personalities from Cleveland’s past and asked us all to just “get along” and let the past be in the past. You knew how brilliant he was even though we were skeptical.
Once you had your team assembled you analyzed the players and developed your plan. You decided the Browns had no quarterback. You decided the Browns had a running back that was good but we had severely overpaid (in draft picks) and he didn’t exactly fit your image of a dynamic back. You knew the offense needed playmakers but you decided not to add any because you didn’t have a quarterback. Plus, if you didn’t really add much to the offense (except Bess), you knew the offense would struggle and that would support your anti-Weeden agenda. You kept your best back off the field on third down so the defense will be sure we weren’t going to run. That will allow some ears pinned back rushes to “test” Weeden under pressure. If he happens to get hurt, oh well that’s just part of the game. If he does poorly, you knew that anyway. Oh yes, and you decided Cousins was a fine guard to develop so the fact that he was a complete sieve to the quarterback was of no concern. He would “get better”. Weeden needed to be tested under pressure anyway. (Oh, sorry, I already said that.) If Weeden happened to get hurt, oh well that’s just part of the game. (Oops, sorry, I said that already also.)
Once you effectively demonstrated to us morons that Weeden was not good and Richardson wasn’t all that much better, you decided to quickly change gears after the team started 0-2. Weeden had just been hurt and couldn’t play. The opportunity was there to speed up the implementation of your master plan (of course we had NO IDEA what you were doing). In order to do that you needed to add more draft picks. What better way to do that than to trade the third pick in the draft from the previous year and try to get a low first round pick. You knew Tom Heckert overvalued Richardson anyway so what was the difference. Plus you could start Brian Hoyer, who your crack staff had determined was better than Weeden anyway despite being cut from three teams last year. That would begin an audition for the back-up quarterback spot for next year. If he did amazingly well, you could even start him for a few games next year while you groom your phenom for the NFL. Campbell was just a back-up at best anyway so you don’t need to see him. Plus, Campbell might win more games and that would drop your draft position. Oh yes, and let’s go ahead and finally bench Greg Little who couldn’t catch a cold. Why upset your new quarterback in his first game?
I could go on but you get the general picture. I actually have a pretty good idea of what you are thinking but you think we all know nothing. You actually think we are buying your coach saying that playing Hoyer was completely his decision and it was because it gives us “the best chance to win”? You actually don’t think we can translate your statement that the Richardson trade “gives us the best chance of sustainable success” really means “we had better get as many damn draft picks as we can so we can get that damn quarterback”. Do you think for a second we can’t tell that Oniel Cousins is a complete stiff and you would never let him play a down at right guard if you had your quarterback in place?
Your ultimate results could be good or disastrous. Your master plan could work to perfection or fall flat on it’s face. The future results will be the judge of your brilliance. I am not saying I know what master plan will work or not work. I am not even saying that you are trying to tank the season. But I also know that I do not have a single digit IQ. I doubt many of the fans reading this or the media have single digit IQs. So could you PLEASE not develop a plan that includes a plethora of catch phrases and bull crap designed to misdirect us and cover the truth. There was a much better way to do this without insulting the intelligence of every fan, every media person, and every competing GM. We all know you are building a war chest of draft picks in order to draft a franchise quarterback. We all know you would be just fine with the season diving to oblivion and our record competing for the bottom of the league. We all know you have no confidence in Brandon Weeden. We all know that Richardson was not “your man” either and he was best used as a chip to get your quarterback. We all know you have no belief that Oniel Cousins will ever be anything but an emergency backup and would never be allowed to step on the field if you had “your playmakers” out there. We all know that Brian Hoyer is not starting this week because he “gives us the best chance to win” but because he needs a try-out to become the backup quarterback. We all know that Chud only made that decision in consultation with Lombardi and yourself. We all know that the Browns are a distinctly less talented team without Richardson and even Weeden. We all know that our fun this season might be completely gone and we will need to sit through a dismal season. We all know the fun of seeing a star running back emerge is gone and we might have given away another talented playmaker with very little to show for it. We all know you can “go all in” for your quarterback, make a mistake, and give us another 5-7 years of pain.
So, after only game 2 of the season, you have purposely put my fun for a season of decent football in serious jeopardy. You may have set the stage for another season of pain. That risk should not be taken so lightly and my intelligence so blatantly insulted. Now I realize that this could work out and the team might not even be dramatically worse or any worse than it would have been without such drastic action. I know Hoyer might even look decent in this offense. But that is not what I am challenging you about with this letter. I am simply saying there was another more reasonable way to do this. You could have told us all that your evaluation of Weeden showed a quarterback who was not as decisive, accurate or analytic as you had hoped. That you were hoping you could coach him up and that he would come through. At the same time you could have acknowledged that Brian Hoyer might get a chance during the season to take control of the offense but you were hoping Weeden would make that decision for you. You could have said that, if you are not sure as the season progresses you have found your quarterback, you were going to make finding a quarterback a top priority. This might require stockpiling draft picks or using other methods to accomplish that goal. You might have had the decency to tell us that your analysis of Trent showed some indecisiveness also about hitting the hole hard and fast. That he ran better in space than up the middle. It would have been fine to say you hoped with your coaching staff you could have improved Trent in all of these areas and he would become the back you expect. You might have been clear that winning more this year would be preferred but that the most important thing was to find a quarterback either on this roster or in the draft and that was a top priority for this season. If things needed to be done to assure that, then you might need to take decisive action to improve your chances to accomplish the primary goal. Finally, you could have just gone out and replaced Oniel Cousins instead of feeding us the line he would “get better”. If that meant Weeden didn’t get hurt or you might have to wait an extra week or two to get Hoyer in there, so be it.
We are not Neanderthals and we all could have dealt with the truth. We may not have liked all we heard but at least we could see the plan being presented to us in a thoughtful and intelligent manner. This charade and soap box drama could have played out so much smoother. Than the decisions to start Hoyer, maybe not let Weeden off the bench when he is healthy, trade Richardson, add draft picks, and other things would have made sense and appear less desperate.
You chose to treat us like we couldn’t see that this was an orchestrated attempt to “prove” to us that you were right and Heckert was wrong. That you were never going to accept the “hand me downs” from Heckert that you didn’t want or like. And that you were willing to, if necessary, sacrifice the season to accomplish your goal.
Thanks for listening but I know nothing I or anyone else says would change your approach. You and Lombardi are the ones with genius IQs and egos the size of Russia. How could we ever teach you anything anyway.
An insulted fan