Joe Banner: Former Eagles Executive Will Turn Browns into Winning Franchise

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IOctober 18, 2012

New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III
New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam IIIJason Miller/Getty Images

Former Philadelphia Eagles executive Joe Banner became the new CEO of the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday, and has been given the unenviable task of turning the franchise into a consistent winner.

According to Mary Kay Cabot of the  Cleveland Plain Dealer, Banner will start later this month.

#Browns' Banner's first day on the job will be Oct. 25, when sale closes.

— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) October 17, 2012

Since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, the team has recorded only two winning seasons (2002 and 2007) and one playoff appearance (2002). In nine of those 13 years, the Browns have won five or fewer games.

The franchise has never played in a Super Bowl, and hasn't reached the AFC Championship since 1989, but should Browns fans be optimistic that Banner can create a winning culture in Cleveland?

Yes, they should be.

Banner is a first-class NFL executive, and someone who understands all aspects of a football team. Not only will he improve the franchise on the field, he will help it become stronger off the field.

When he joined the Eagles in 1994, the team was not very good. However, starting in 1995, Philadelphia made the playoffs in 11 of 16 years. That included six NFC East division titles, five NFC Championship appearances and a Super Bowl berth in 2004.

Not many teams over the last 16 years have enjoyed as much success as the Eagles, and now Banner's next challenge will be to bring the Browns back to their glory days.

The first step in this process is drafting well, which is something that Cleveland has not done well since coming back to the NFL.

The Eagles built a winning team thanks to some very good draft picks. Notable first-round picks during Banner's tenure with the Eagles included quarterback Donovan McNabb, defensive tackle Corey Simon, offensive tackles Tra Thomas and Shawn Andrews, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and cornerback Lito Sheppard.

Philadelphia was able to do a good job of scouting players. Based on some of the team's draft picks outside of the first round, including safety Brian Dawkins (Round 2, 1996) and running back Brian Westbrook (Round 3, 2002), this was evident.

The Browns have drafted some good players recently, such as Joe Thomas and Joe Haden, but many of the team's first-round picks since 1999 have unimpressed. This cannot happen if you want to create a consistent winner.

In addition to doing better in the draft, expect Banner to emphasize building a strong defense in Cleveland. Even though today's NFL has seen a lot of scoring records broken of late, defense still wins championships. Just look at the New York Giants last year.

The Eagles had a very good defense for much of Banner's tenure in Philadelphia, and it was one of the main reasons for their success. For the Browns to become one of the league's elite teams, their defense has to improve.

The Browns front office has set a good foundation for Banner to work with, and now it's up to him to take the team to the next level.

Banner will find the right coach for the Browns, whether it's current coach Pat Shurmur or someone else (Chip Kelly of Oregon, maybe?), and he will build a solid team with smart personnel decisions.

New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III has chosen the right man to help build his franchise into one of the most successful teams in pro football.

Building this once proud franchise into a winner will take time, but if there's one executive who can complete the mission successfully, it's Joe Banner.