Browns make wrong move by firing Heckert

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
9:35
AM ET
The Browns continued their housecleaning by firing general manager Tom Heckert along with coach Pat Shurmur, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The reason to dismiss Shurmur was clear. He didn't win. Nine wins in 32 games isn't going to cut it, especially with an ownership change.

But the Browns are going to regret letting Heckert walk out the door. I understand the need for housecleaning and letting chief executive officer Joe Banner put "his guys" into place. Still, based on his short track record in Cleveland, Heckert didn't deserve to get fired.

All you have to do is look at the roster in January 2010 when Heckert took over and what the team looks like now. He rebuilt the defense through the draft with cornerback Joe Haden, safety T.J. Ward, defensive tackle Phil Taylor and defensive end Jabaal Sheard. He was attempting to do the same on offense when he selected running back Trent Richardson and quarterback Brandon Weeden (who was more of a Mike Holmgren pick) in the first round this year.

Heckert also hit in the later rounds with guard Jason Pinkston (fifth round in 2011), linebacker James-Michael Johnson (fourth round in 2012) and defensive tackle Billy Winn (sixth round in 2012), and he made the right call by taking wide receiver Josh Gordon in the second round of the supplemental draft.

The move Heckert wasn't able to make was the one to move up in this year's draft to get quarterback Robert Griffin III, although it sounded like Holmgren was making the final decision on that.

So why didn't the Browns win with that talent? Some of it has to do with coaching, but another factor was free agency. The Browns needed to spend (or be allowed to spend) to fill in the holes. Relying solely on the draft doesn't result in a quick turnaround, even when you're having productive drafts.

“I leave the Browns feeling very good about many of the things we accomplished here and the direction in which I believe this team is headed,” Heckert said in a statement. “Having been around this franchise growing up, I was really excited for the opportunity to come here three years ago, and I want to thank Randy Lerner and Mike Holmgren for making that possible. I wish the team nothing but the best as they move forward.”

My guess is Heckert won't be waiting around too long for his next job.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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