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Shifting the culture in Berea

Posted Jul 24, 2013

BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns chief executive officer Joe Banner wants to continue changing the culture of the team.

BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns chief executive officer Joe Banner has been implementing the vision of owner Jimmy Haslam since joining the team last October, and that includes changing the culture of the organization.

From spending $5 million to renovate the Berea training facility -- designed to create more collaboration among the team’s employees by having everyone in the same building -- to signing quality free agents pursued by many other teams around the league, Banner has implemented changes with the goal of creating a winning organization.

“My focus is really on wanting to see the shift in the culture that we’ve talked about, the effort, wanting to see schemes the coaches are putting in starting to take hold and the players getting better as the season goes, seeing the young players develop and hoping they’re all what we think they could be,” Banner said Wednesday. “That’s really my focus, wanting to see the work ethic and the pace that you saw in the spring stay through the whole season. If we see those things, we’ll feel good that we’re on the right track.”

Banner saw an effort and energy from the coaches and players during the offseason program, and expects that to continue throughout training camp, the preseason, and on into the regular season.

“There’s a real pace, an energy, a work ethic that I think makes a difference with what the coaches have instilled,” Banner said. “Some of that’s cultural, some of that’s scheme. I think those things will help us move forward.

On the eve of his first training camp in the Browns’ front office, Banner feels as though the team is “about where we thought it’d be.”

“I think it’s been overlooked a little that we had two free agents that a lot of teams were interested in,” Banner said of linebacker Paul Kruger and defensive lineman Desmond Bryant. “The fact that they chose to come here I think is an important message to our team. I think it’s an important message around the league. The fact that we signed John Greco yesterday, and you don’t sign players early unless they’re optimistic about where they are and it’s a place they want to be, those things feed on themselves.

“If you want to be a winning organization, you want to be a place that players are choosing to come to. It means they feel good about the people that are going to coach them. They feel optimistic about winning. I think that’s a really good sign about how the league is kind of adjusting their thinking about what it would be to come and play here or coach here. I think that will help us a lot in the long run.”

Another part of Banner and Haslam’s vision for the Browns is developing continuity. Since 1999, the Browns have had six head coaches and undergone multiple other changes in the front office.

The key for continuity, according to Banner, is making sure the right pieces are in the correct places.

“My belief is you don’t want to have continuity until you’ve got the right people in place because that’s the fastest way to really have failure,” Banner said. “Once you have the right people in place, continuity is the most important, valuable thing you can do.”

WEEDEN IMPRESSES

Not one to rest on previous accomplishments, quarterback Brandon Weeden spent the offseason working to improve accuracy and timing with his throws by quickening his footwork and eliminating the tendency to pat the football while dropping back in the pocket and going through the progressions.

His dedication to the craft has not gone unnoticed by the front office.

“He’s worked real hard, done everything we’ve asked him to do,” Banner said. “He got a lot more work in the spring and got to progress on the mental aspect of the position, so I think everyone’s encouraged by how hard he’s worked and by how bad he wants to do well.”

MAKING GOOD CHOICES

Shortly after the conclusion of the Browns’ offseason program, the NFL announced that second-year wide receiver Josh Gordon would be suspended for the first two games of the 2013 regular season because of a failed drug test.

Gordon expressed contrition when talking with the media Monday, and Banner acknowledged the situation Wednesday.

“He’s got to do some work, and he understands that he’s going to be held accountable and the rope that’s left isn’t long,” Banner said. “When working with the coaches, they just need to see that commitment, that work ethic, and off the field, he has to make good choices.”