Despite coming on board after the season. the play coming from the quarterback position in 2009 clearly rattled the Browns new brain trust to their core. The team's front office wasted little time overhauling the position and changing the locker room dynamic.
Holmgren and Heckert believe this will translate to improved offensive proficiency in the 2010 season.
Outside the walls of the team's Berea offices, however, self-proclaimed experts in the media and elsewhere have a much different opinion about the situation under center in Cleveland.
Veteran Jake Delhomme came off a terrible season in Carolina before moving into a new contract and a role as the de facto starter at quarterback for the Browns. For the better part of seven seasons, Delhomme guided the Panthers. After his poor 2009 season, a broken finger, and the emergence of Matt Moore late in the season, the writing was on the wall for the veteran.
After departing the Panthers, and possessing a nice two-year contract from the Browns, Delhomme has been a fixture at the Browns training facility since mid-March.
And the impact has been immediate.
Delhomme's presence and experience was a key element of what has been a promising beginning to the OTA's (Off-Season Training Activities). The veteran has quickly developed a working relationship with the young Browns receiving corps.
Along with another new QB in Cleveland, Seneca Wallace (trade w/Seattle), Delhomme has worked extensively with the receivers, position coaches and offensive coordinator to ensure every base is being covered. Although quarterbacks and receivers have worked together in past off-seasons at the Browns practice facility, there is a different feeling surrounding this group, and generally within the locker room this off-season.
Delhomme is working hard to prove his poor 2009 season was a fluke. The veteran QB does not make any excuses about his performance, nor will he point a finger at his former receivers in Carolina -- where 11 passes were intercepted after tips and deflections a season ago.
When asked if he was physically sound a season ago, Delhomme only notes he was okay, despite speculation that he struggled with an arm issue throughout the season.
Two months into his new role in leading the Browns, the early results have been promising.
Acknowledging the usual disclaimers that the team is running in shorts, there is no contact and the sessions are conducted at a slower pace than game conditions. Delhomme has performed well -- but most importantly, the veteran has assumed a leadership role with an offense that has lacked a leader for most of the expansion era.
Despite this being the off-season, Browns receivers catching balls in stride and making plays is a positive sign for a team that struggled mightily a season ago.
More importantly, the experience coming from those under center has only helped the development and maturation of the youth at the WR position.
Many have counted out Delhomme as being over-the-hill in a young man's league. Perhaps it's a mirage created by the early Summer sun, but to date the veteran has been everything the Browns could have envisioned.
Come late July, Delhomme will again be scrutinized at every turn, this time in full gear when the hitting begins and the speed of the game increases.
His new receivers and team president say not to bet against him -- and time will tell.