Woody better give Heckert a call..And we all better hope that other opportunity Lombardi might have isn't the Jets....Remember he hired Tannenbaum while they were both in Cleveland


Pat Shurmur, Tom Heckert expected to be gone by Monday after Cleveland Browns take on Pittsburgh Steelers


By Mary Kay Cabot, The Plain Dealer
on December 29, 2012 at 7:21 PM, updated

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - It's become a Browns tradition over the past several years: Close out the season against the Steelers and then watch heads roll within 24 hours after the game.

Coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert are expected to either be fired or part ways with new owner Jimmy Haslam and new CEO Joe Banner by Monday, league sources told The Plain Dealer.

It's reminiscent of 2008, when former Browns coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Phil Savage lost their jobs following a 31-0 loss in Pittsburgh. Former Browns coach Eric Mangini suffered the same fate after losing 41-9 to the Steelers in 2010.

When Haslam agreed to buy the team in August and Banner took over in October, it was almost a foregone conclusion that the two would want to hit the ground running with their own people. Banner made it clear in an interview with The Plain Dealer in November that he had excellent candidates in mind at all positions to take the Browns to a championship level.

He also stressed that he wouldn't be one to stock the Browns with people he's worked with before, and that he'd rely on all the relationships he'd developed over the years.

Heading into today's game, Heckert and Shurmur both knew they'd be gone afterward even though they hadn't been informed yet, sources said.

"Listen, I get this, and my concerns are for my team and making sure that we do all the right things during the game to give our guys the best chance to win,'' said Shurmur, who heads in with a 9-22 record. "That’s where I’m at. We have not won enough football games, and I know that’s the way this things works, but in our situation I see improvement and I’ll leave it at that.''

In a conference call earlier this month, Banner vowed to make his decisions swiftly after the season. Shurmur and Heckert will either be informed after the game, or sometime Monday morning. That way, Shurmur won't be put in the awkward position of conducting the customary exit interviews with his players.

“I know what I want to do with the players on Monday from a scheduling standpoint, but nothing has been set as far as any official communication (with the higher-ups) or whatnot,'' Shurmur said Thursday. "Again, my thoughts right now are getting our team to Pittsburgh, playing the game and then getting our team back. Those are the thoughts that I have right now.”

Shurmur stressed the great job his staff did in developing all the young players on the roster -- 26 with less than two years' experience.

"We came into a less than ideal situation when we got here,'' said Shurmur. "I’m proud of the work that the guys that I hired did in terms of inspiring the players to improve. It’s a little different thought process when you’re working with so many young ones. There are certain things you’ve got to keep hammering home that when you’ve got a veteran crew, you know you talk about other things.''

With the ax falling on Monday, the Browns will quickly begin interviewing candidates for both their head coach and GM vacancies, and might have to compete with more than a dozen teams for the hottest candidates. It's not yet known if any members of the coaching staff or personnel department will remain.

Some of the most coveted coaching candidates include Oregon's Chip Kelly and the following NFL offensive coordinators: Patriots' Josh McDaniels, 49ers' Greg Roman, Colts' Bruce Arians, Denver's Mike McCoy, Falcons' Dirk Koetter, Bengals' Jay Gruden, and Redskins' Kyle Shanahan. On the defensive side, former Browns assistant and Cleveland native Mel Tucker of the Jaguars is expected to draw interest.

Kelly, the offensive genius with the high-powered scheme and 45-7 record in four years at Oregon, will be coveted by the Panthers and Eagles, among others.

Then there are always the big-name candidates such former Bucs and Raiders coach Jon Gruden and former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, both of whom have some ties to Haslam. Alabama coach Nick Saban has been linked to the Browns, but sources have told the Plain Dealer that he's staying put.

From a GM standpoint, multiple reports say Banner will turn to former Browns personnel executive and current NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi, who worked here with Bill Belichick, to replace Heckert. Others have said Lombardi might have an opportunity with another team.

Former Browns pro personnel assistant Scott Pioli might be let go in Kansas City along with Crennel, and would be an intriguing prospect. He interviewed here with Randy Lerner for the job that went to Mike Holmgren, and loved his Cleveland days. He's also still close to McDaniels from their Patriots years.

Other GM candidates that could be on the Browns' radar are the Falcons' David Caldwell, the Bills' Doug Whaley, the Chiefs' Ray Farmer, the Cardinals' Steve Keim and Jason Licht, and the Seahawks' John Idzik.

Meanwhile, the Browns players were bracing themselves for the looming changes.

"You try not to bring it up,'' said linebacker D'Qwell Jackson. "If anything, you want the day to go by a little slower. You want to enjoy these last few days if that’s the case. It hasn’t been talked about, but you can tell it’s a sense of urgency there. And our coaches do a great job of not wearing their emotions on their sleeve. If they are down, and they’ve got a million things to think about. They’ve got kids here that go to school, they have a house here. It’s a tough transition for the family, let alone themselves. So you try not to talk about it, you just try to continue the day as normal.''

Jackson said he hopes the current staff remains intact, but understands if Haslam decides to start over.

"Once you change the owner, he's been successful at what he's done in his career and he has a way of doing business and he's going to bring that mold here, and whatever it is, whether it's change, whether it's keeping the guys in the building, I'm on board for it,'' said Jackson. "My job is to lead the guys in the locker room and do the best of my ability with that. If change happens and he feels like it needs to happen, you have to be on board with it.''

There's been some speculation that defensive coordinator Dick Jauron might stay, especially if the Browns hire a young offensive coach.

"He deserves some consideration to stay in the building,'' said Jackson. "He's a great coach. He understands the game, he’s given me the keys to the defense, he trusts players that put in the time. Not to have him in the building . . . I don’t even want to think about Dick not being here. I honestly don’t.''

Unfortunately for many in the building, the time has come to start thinking about not being here.

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