Maryland Terps

Banner hopes to make Browns winners


Banner hopes to make Browns winners

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Joe Banner didn't want to make any promises or predictions. It's not his nature.

But just as he helped transform the Philadelphia Eagles into consistent winners, the new CEO of the Cleveland Browns has a plan to fix a franchise trapped inside a vortex of failure.

He just hopes it doesn't take five years.

``I'll be in a straitjacket if it takes that long,'' Banner joked.

On the same day GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan rerouted his campaign trail through Cleveland's practice, the Browns ushered in a new administration as Banner was introduced by new owner Jimmy Haslam III, whose $1 billion purchase of the franchise was approved at the NFL's fall meetings on Tuesday.

Banner spent 19 years with the Eagles, spending the final 12 seasons as team president. During his time in Philadelphia, the Eagles went to the playoffs 11 times, won six NFC East titles, advanced to five NFC title games and one Super Bowl. The 59-year-old knows that other than losing, the only constant in Cleveland over the past decade has been change.

He's aware that other executives have tried and failed to turn around the Browns, who have made the playoffs just once since 1999. Banner isn't going to dwell on past mistakes or make any rash judgments as eases into his new position. He's only interested in delivering a winner to Cleveland's long-suffering and passionate fans.

``I don't want to be the next person to make a bunch of promises,'' he said. ``I want to go out, do the work and let them see the result.''

Banner won't officially begin handling the Browns' day-to-day operations until Oct. 25, when Haslam's acquisition of the team from Randy Lerner will be finalized. By then, the Browns (1-5) will have played seven games and both Haslam and Banner will have a better sense of the work ahead.

After resigning as Philadelphia's president in June, Banner stayed on as a consultant to owner Jeff Lurie with the Eagles and kept one eye on his next challenge. He met with Haslam, and from his first conversation with the truck stop magnate, Banner knew he had found something worth pursuing.

The Browns had everything he wanted: a franchise with untapped potential, a passionate owner and fervent fan base. For Banner, it was so much like what he had experienced almost 20 years ago when he started in Philadelphia.

``I thought this would be a year or two process to find the situation I was looking for and the right ownership and the right city and everything like that,'' he said. ``To be honest, I wasn't even sure I would ever find it. But I certainly thought it would take a while. To have found somebody like Jimmy and to be in a market like Cleveland, with a love of the team and love of the game like this, in a matter of four or five months to me is remarkable and very, very lucky.''

Banner's arrival signals the end of Mike Holmgren's tenure as Browns president and could lead to a further shake-up in Cleveland's front office. Holmgren is expected to stay on until the end of this season, his third with the club, and then retire.

While Holmgren's future is known, the prospects for Browns coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert are uncertain.

Shurmur is just 5-17 in two seasons with the Browns, who got their first win last week over Cincinnati Cleveland. Haslam recently met for 90 minutes with Shurmur, offering him his support and telling him no decisions would be made until after the season ends.

``I'm at peace with what happens,'' Shurmur said Wednesday.

Heckert has overhauled Cleveland's roster since he was hired by Holmgren in 2010. And while Heckert appears to have the young Browns (1-5) headed in the right direction, there are no guarantees he'll survive the ownership change.

Banner worked with Heckert in Philadelphia and has respect for the GM. He would not comment on Heckert's track record with Cleveland.

``I don't want to get into the specifics at this point,'' Banner said. ``It's just premature. I know Tom well, I like him as a person and I respect him professionally a lot.''

Cleveland's pro personnel department includes several other members Banner worked with in Philadelphia. Banner holds them all in high regard and said they will be evaluated at the end of the season, which is the norm throughout the league.

``There isn't a single one I don't like personally, have a lot of respect for and I've seen them do their jobs extremely well in an environment where I worked right with them,'' Banner said. ``I come in with a very positive attitude and impression about all those people.

``There will be a thorough evaluation of everything that we do, but whether there will be changes or not I think time will answer that for us.''

When he began searching for an executive to run the Browns, Haslam sought advice inside and outside pro football for the right candidate. Almost every conversation ended with Haslam being pointed toward one person - Banner.

``It came up from people we know and people we don't know,'' said Haslam, who built his fortune with Pilot Flying J truck stops. ``Joe and I have spent a lot of time together over the last two or three months and have really come to know each other very well. I come from the business world and have hired a lot of senior executives. I can say I've spent more time with this senior executive, making sure he was the right fit for the Cleveland Browns than any we ever interviewed for Pilot Flying J.

``I checked out Joe as thoroughly as anyone I ever checked out.''

Banner, too, did his background work on Haslam. He came away convinced Haslam was the right man and Cleveland was the right place.

``He's totally real,'' Banner said of Haslam. ``First of all, he's incredibly passionate. He's very smart. He's a good person. He cares about people, and he is just laser focused on wanting to have the joy of running a football team that's winning a lot of games and ultimately holding a Super Bowl trophy.''


NOTES: Browns RB Trent Richardson was limited in practice, but expects to play Sunday against Indianapolis with a rib cartilage injury. Richardson got hurt last week against Cincinnati, taking a helmet to the ribs in the first quarter. Richardson said his side was tender and he had trouble breathing. ``It's gonna be day by day, step by step,'' Richardson said. ``Me in my head, I'm already ready for Sunday. It just depends how I do and Coach is gonna let me know what I need to do.'' ... Browns WR Mohamed Massaquoi practiced for the first time after missing three games with a hamstring injury. ... Browns LB Scott Fujita and DB Dimitri Patterson did not practice. Fujita is facing a possible career-ending neck injury.


Online: and

Quick Links

No. 19 Iowa pummels Maryland 23-0 for 3rd straight win

USA Today

No. 19 Iowa pummels Maryland 23-0 for 3rd straight win

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- On a day when the wind made nearly every play an ugly one, Iowa's defense looked beautiful.

Nate Stanley threw for 86 yards and a touchdown and 19th-ranked Iowa pummeled Maryland 23-0 on Saturday for its third straight victory.

Anthony Nelson added a TD on a fumble recovery for the Hawkeyes (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten), who held the Terrapins to just 115 yards and seven first downs on a day when wind gusts topped 40 mph.

"I'm really happy with our team's performance. When you play a team like Maryland, they really pose some unique challenges for us and you factor in the conditions on top of that," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "I thought our guys did a really good job of being focused."

Those conditions seemed like they might favor Maryland and its run-heavy attack.

But Iowa's front seven never let the Terrapins' attack get going, and its offense used the ground game to grab an early lead and control the ball for more than 40 minutes.

After settling for a pair of short field goals, Iowa went into halftime ahead 13-0 after Stanley found Brandon Smith for a 10-yard TD grab -- which Smith made with one hand -- with eight seconds left in the second quarter.

Nelson, a defensive end, made it 23-0 Hawkeyes late in the third quarter by falling on a botched handoff from backup quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome in the end zone.

"They controlled the line of scrimmage up front. When we did try to run it up inside, they did a very good job of stopping us," Maryland coach Matt Canada said. "The wind really limited us being able to throw the ball down the field to loosen them up."

Ivory Kelly-Martin ran for 98 yards for Iowa, which had its first shutout since a 28-0 victory at Illinois two years ago.

Kasim Hill was 6 of 15 passing for 47 yards and a pick for the Terps (4-3, 2-2), who ran for just 68 yards after entering play averaging 245 a game on the ground.

All three of Maryland's losses have come by at least 21 points.


Iowa: The Hawkeyes are really starting to round into form. If Iowa can upset Penn State next week in State College, talk of the Hawkeyes crashing the playoff party will only gain steam because they should be favored to win their last four games.

Maryland: The Terps' defense simply couldn't get off the field, time and again bullied by an Iowa offensive line that played arguably its best game yet. Illinois ran just 39 plays, compared with 76 for Iowa.


Iowa might make another big jump -- the Hawkeyes went from unranked to 19th last week -- after an utterly dominant performance. The Hawkeyes have won their last three games by 17, 26 and 23 points.


Maryland looked like it had a good shot at holding Iowa to another red-zone field goal late in the first half. But Byron Cowart got flagged for a personal foul following a Stanley incompletion from the Terrapins 22, and two plays later Stanley found Smith in the end zone.


Hesse, Iowa's senior defensive end, played perhaps the signature game of a brilliant career. Hesse knew exactly when to stay home and when to attack on Maryland's option plays, and he added a sack and two tackles for loss. "They give you a lot of different looks ... it all came down to what we did this week in practice," Hesse said. "Not to sound redundant or cheesy. That's just something you've got to practice."


Ty Johnson was the only Maryland player with more than one catch. He had two, for two yards. Iowa was 9 of 18 on third downs and 3 of 4 on fourth downs. Tre Watson and Isaiah Davis combined for 29 tackles for Maryland. The Hawkeyes wore out Maryland with a 17-play drive in the first quarter that consumed nine minutes and ended with a 23-yard field goal from Miguel Recinos. "Our objective is to get off the field on third down. Unfortunately, we understand when those long drives happen, it's because we failed to do that," Watson said.

Quick Links

Redskins vs. Cowboys: The Highs and Lows from Week 7

Redskins vs. Cowboys: The Highs and Lows from Week 7

By the time these arch-rivals kicked off late Sunday afternoon for Week 7 at FedEx Field, this much was true: Either the Washington Redskins or Dallas Cowboys would end the day atop the NFC East thanks in part to the Philadelphia Eagles' fourth-quarter collapse. Should the Redskins win a second consecutive game for the first time since Week 15-16 last season, Washington would hold a 1 1/2 game lead.

Of course, week-to-week consistency hasn't been on the menu in 2018 even at home. 

The Redskins entered their first NFC East game of the season without Jamison Crowder, Paul Richardson, Chris Thompson and Quinton Dunbar, who popped up on the injury report late in the week with a shin injury.

Here's what went right and what went wrong in Week 7 between the Redskins and Cowboys.

Redskins vs. Cowboys: The Highs and Lows


HIGHS: The Redskins entered Sunday 3-0 when scoring first, but 0-2 when the opponent generates a game’s initial points. Therefore, Kapri Bibbs taking a perfectly executed screen pass 23 yards for a touchdown on Washington’s first drive offers hope.

LOWS: Washington’s defense stopped Dallas on Fourth-and-1 from the Cowboys’ 45-yard line as D.J. Swearinger forced a fumble as quarterback Dak Prescott sought space. This good news lands in the bad section because the offense did nothing with the opportunity. They quickly punted without generating a first down on the brief drive.

The Redskins didn’t capitalize on similar opportunities against Carolina with a chance to create significant separation, and the Panthers nearly rallied in the second half.


HIGHS:  Gameplans against the Cowboys offense go something like this: Stop running back Ezekiel Elliott. Not easy, of course; Elliott entered Week 7 second in the NFL with 586 yards. Therefore, credit the Redskins defense in the first half. Elliott had 13 yards on 10 carries. Inside linebacker Zach Brown, among the players consistently around in the fray on run attempts, had eight tackles in the first half.

LOWS: Rookie on rookie crime put Dallas on the scoreboard. With the ball at Washington’s 49, receiver Michael Gallup ran a classic stop-and-go, the kind of play sneaky kids attempt in backyards across the country with mixed reviews. This try turned into a smashing success for the visitors. Greg Stroman, starting on the outside in place of Dunbar, bit on the fakery. Gallup sprinted past the cornerback and Prescott fed his wide-open receiver in stride for the tying touchdown.