There are many times when I admittedly try to sway Cleveland Browns fans toward an optimistic viewpoint on any topic related to the team. Historically, I feel I have succeeded in my efforts to a degree. Can I do the same thing for Michael Lombardi? Hell no.
The disdain for Lombardi, as evidenced in the thread I linked to above, cannot and will not go away. It will stay that way until we see how the front office handles things from mid-March onward with free agency, the draft, and then final roster decisions.
Here are my own personal thoughts on Lombardi and the front office in general:
- I did not have a preconceived hatred toward Lombardi, but his credentials did not jump off the page at me. As much as the Browns want to put on a public relations show that Lombardi was not a serious candidate until this past week, he has been linked to the Browns since Joe Banner came to town.
- The Browns were able to get a pair of great coordinators in Norv Turner and Ray Horton. I can't emphasize enough how excited I am about both of those guys; I know Brad Childress and Dick Jauron both had head coaching experience, but I would put Turner and Horton on a completely different level compared to those two. Then at head coach, you have an intriguing up-and-comer in Rob Chudzinski.
- I think the criticism for Lombardi from fans is absolutely fair, but I think the panic related to the decision has been a bit overblown. Some of the draft picks that have been pinned on him seem unfair; there are other parties involved too. Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner are doing some out-of-the-box things with how they are putting things together, but the staff that has been put together should be far greater than just what Lombardi wants.
- Lombardi has made a lot of bold predictions and statements about NFL players as a columnist, including members of the Browns roster, that have ended up being completely off-base. In short, it has set the bar very low regarding his ability to evaluate talent. I will say one thing, though: certain members of the media are paid to be interesting and stay relevant. To an extent, I think a lot of Lombardi's statements for the National Football Post or NFL Network were exaggerated purposely by him to the "nth" degree in order to create a buzz. Whether that is right or wrong, that's the way some people do it. I don't think that guarantees he is going to make it a mission to hate Brandon Weeden and go get a Ryan Mallett or Brian Hoyer.
- Banner clearly liked working with Lombardi during their short time together in Philadelphia. I think Tom Heckert could have stayed with the team if he had been able to retain the general manager position in the same capacity, but I don't think he was interested in a reduced, collaborative role that he would have had to play with Banner and others. Without question, I would have preferred Heckert over Lombardi. Heck, given the negativity surrounding Lombardi, I would have preferred a lot of other candidates over Lombardi. Given the fact that we knew this would be a reduced role, though, I just don't think this is, "the end of the world."
Yesterday, some members of the media jumped to the defense of Lombardi. As many of you have already discussed, the one that came out of left field was Jim Nantz of CBS Sports, who gushed over Lombardi, blasted Heckert's drafts, etc. It was jaw-dropping and entertaining just to hear a guy like Nantz go off on a tirade like that, but at the same time, it was laughable how contradictory he was.
How "objective" can a guy be who one second earlier admits to being close with Lombardi and Belichick...and then follows that up by calling both of them the two most brilliant football guys in the business? What about brushing aside the drafts that Lombardi had a hand in, only to blast another guy's drafts a minute later? Yeah. To quote Tony Grossi (yes, I can't believe I'm doing it)..."stick to golf."
Anyway, this is a continuation of the initial thread on Lombardi, which was getting close to the 2,000 comment mark. Use this as an open thread to discuss your hated for Lombardi, any optimism you see at the end of the tunnel, etc.