The Cleveland Browns had been a down-ridden organization, on and off the field for years prior to the entrance of Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert. Poor play, poorer decisions and a lack of leadership continuity riddled the organization from the team owner on down.
Much hasn't changed to this date on the playing field, as the Browns sport an unremarkable 9-23 record under the Holmgren-led regime.
Despite the poor record, the Browns front office has added core players and general manager Tom Heckert is being noticed due to changes within the player roster and his draft prowess.
With as many as nine players selected by Heckert in the 2010 and 2011 college player drafts lining-up as starters, the Browns are amassing the talent to gain the consistency needed on the playing field. Holmgren and Heckert both noted upon their arrival in 2010, it would take time to build the Browns the ‘right way' and they had a plan in place.
The ‘right way' coupled with an organization tired of losing, the Browns again aggressively pursued players at positions in the 2012 draft to make an immediate difference on game-day.
"The Browns may ultimately be the most improved in the league, once the young talent they have added gets their feet wet," one player personnel director tells theOBR. "To truly add a legitimate QB, RB and two WR's in one-season is relatively unheard of."
"In the case of the Browns, the Weeden selection may come back to be the most important move made for the immediate success of that organization."
With the NFL being a QB driven league, or so it would appear when looking back at recent history, the Browns have been searching for that elusive QB since 1999. There are too many names to remember; much less mention when discussing the poor football displayed by those QB's which were expected to be the next big thing in Cleveland.
"We never worried too much about the QB beating us when playing the Browns. It was just a fact, that organization has been QB deficient, skill-player deficient for a significant amount of time," the personnel director said. "In 2007, the Browns were a tough team to beat. They had a couple big receivers, a QB that could throw the ball through a wall and they played with confidence."
"Since then, we knew the Browns could stand-up and punch us in the mouth, but we were more athletic, we were faster and confident. That is a difference we may be seeing evolve in Cleveland now."
Improving the speed, quickness and overall athleticism of a roster that had gotten old and slow was a priority. Infiltrating an offense with size, speed and quickness – and adding a QB that has the makeup to lead the team were urgent facets to note.
Coming off a 2011 season in which the Browns offense struggled mightily, the organization conducted a thorough evaluation of the player roster with a considerable amount of time spent on the offensive side of the ball. A shortened off-season of practice sessions due to the owners lockout of the players didn't do the Browns any justice.
Attempting to install a new offensive scheme, with a new head coach and new talent wasn't the optimum recipe for success. The only way to improve the mess known as the Browns offense was to add legitimate talent.
But, what the Browns did see was an offense lacking the skill-set required to make a difference. Speed and quickness were lacking, the right-side of the offensive line was subpar and the QB didn't execute, whether it by design or inability.
"As a whole, the Browns have been talent deficient for years. They were put further in the hole because of a terrible draft in 2009 and questionable personnel moves. A team cannot win when they miss on multiple early draft selections, as they did," the personnel director continued.
"Now, we look at the Browns and see a team which has improved its team speed, down-field potential and a RB that will be very good in this league barring injury."
And about that ever-elusive QB position in Cleveland?
"(Colt) McCoy is a nice kid, but he does not possess the arm strength necessary in today's NFL. Players are getting bigger and faster every year, the days of a mediocre-armed QB getting the ball down-field into tight-windows are close to being non-existent," the personnel director said.
"Now, Brandon Weeden can throw the football and he will not be hesitant. You give this young man some protection and let him live and learn the game; the Browns will get a good eight-years out of him."
The Browns can only hope.