Cleveland Browns team president Joe Banner described general manager Michael Lombardi as a ‘lightning rod’. Banner is referring to the amount of attention that Lombardi draws in Cleveland due to his first run with the team in the 1990s, and his perception in the town.
If Banner wants Lombardi to be judged on the results of his performance in an ideal setting (assuming Cleveland has the ideal structure), then it should be said that Brandon Weeden deserves the same opportunity.
Team president Banner, and owner Jimmy Haslam made numerous changes to the front office and the coaching staff. Weeden has been in the middle of every conversation since. Weeden was picked in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft and came to the Browns with first-round expectations. Though the new staff in Cleveland has not been completely supportive of Weeden, they have yet to actually shut the door on him. Without a doubt, Weeden had periods of success during the 2012 season. Nearly the entire coaching staff was removed, which tells observers that those coaches were not performing very well. If Weeden showed signs of success under a coaching staff that Banner and others believe were sub-par, then it has to be reasoned that Weeden deserves a chance to play under an improved coaching staff.
Weeden could not affect where he was picked in the draft or who picked him, but he worked hard in his first year. He made some good throws, and he made some rookie mistakes. He did help make the receivers around him better and appeared to be a very good teammate. On the front office side, Lombardi chose to come to Cleveland; he did not have to leave his career as a member of the media to return to football. He wants to be a member of this franchise, and has expressed respect for the fan base. If he did not feel good about the circumstances of taking the general manager position in Cleveland, then he would have stayed away from it. He had the opportunity to assess the roster before signing on. If he was not comfortable with the players then he should not have taken the job, or at least have a quick solution for every issue he did have.
Lombardi comes to a team that is close to being competitive for years to come, and has a coaching staff in place that expects to win now. It is not so much that Lombard is not excited about Brandon Weeden, he just fits with a front office and coaching staff that want to see production on the field. While the staff has expressed some good sentiment about the current players and new additions, they will let the production speak for itself. Former head coach Pat Shurmur often said that players ‘battled’, when he could not substantiate high levels of productivity on the field, and he used that term often. It left fans in the dark on the futures of players or how to evaluate what they were seeing. The new staff will be a little more clear on its approach to assessing game results and player performances.
Banner thinks that Lombardi is the man for the general manager position in Cleveland. This is not a clean start for the Cleveland Browns. This is a team that has the ball rolling, and Lombardi is expected to create more momentum. Like Lombardi, Weeden was expected to make big waves in his first year. Perhaps Lombardi and Weeden will overcome similar difficulties and succeed in 2013.