Who are we to question the way the Cleveland Browns do business?
I mean, yes, they are the team that has — in a carefully orchestrated series of moves — whacked their head coach, followed by their CEO and general manager, and then their leading tackler and locker-room presence in the time of year when season-ticket holders are usually asked to start forking over next year's money.
But we should not look into the report from Vic Carucci of Clevelandbrowns.com that the team did not use any of their 60 formal interview slots at the NFL scouting combine on Johnny Manziel or any quarterback with suspicion or concern.
OK, end sarcasm. Actually being serious here.
Really, this report, while interesting, is actually not that big a deal. The Browns need a quarterback. They need to do all the homework they can on the quarterbacks in this class because they are taking (at least) one of them. Their staff is a little more shorthanded since February, and it's a new group of coaches on board. We understand all this.
But with the draft pushed back two weeks this year, there is plenty of time to meet personally with all of the quarterbacks they want to in Berea, Ohio or on the prospect's home turf, if they choose. First, the Browns were seen talking to several of the quarterbacks who were at the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl, so some have been crossed off the list already. Plus, the team will bring in or go talk to the players they want to speak to further in depth. They'll meet the coaches, watch some tape, maybe eat a steak or shrimp or lamb, maybe at one of those outstanding Michael Symon restaurants in Cleveland.
And really, this is a smart move by the Browns. What are they going to gather in a 15-minute meeting with a quarterback, for a player who might become the face of the franchise? GM Ray Farmer stressed the character aspect when talking to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and meeting with Johnny Manziel — or any of the top quarterbacks — over a longer period of time would help allow what Farmer hopes to glean.
"You start to get a better feel for who the person is," Farmer said. "I've always been told that your talent may get you places but if your character can't keep you there, you'll fail. [Former NFL head coach] Herm Edwards always says 'it's not always the skill, it's the will.' They can lose some standing in the pecking order depending on the type of people they are."
So this not-uncommon-at-all approach by the Browns to skip the quarterback interviews at the combine, which has been done by other teams in the past, should not be criticized. This isn't a function of them being not thorough but rather being more thorough. It's smart and measured, and it's the right thing to do.
That said, almost everything they have done since the end of the season is fair game.
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