Browns Are Belichick School Of Communications Grads
By Steven King
Bill Belichick, the master of being tight-lipped, would be proud.
One of his former disciples from his days in Cleveland, current Browns General Manager Mike Lombardi, combined with CEO Joe Banner to say next to nothing as they met with the media on Thursday afternoon for a pre-NFL Draft press conference.
Banner and Lombardi fielded questions about the draft and the Browns’ intentions for it – a lot of good, well-meaning questions that begged for some elaboration -- for 27 minutes, and they did not give away any secrets, to put it mildly.
All the confusion and speculation that existed beforehand about the Browns’ draft plans, still exists – and maybe more boldly and significantly, actually.
It was Lombardi’s first media availability since his introductory press conference three months ago, the Browns having kept him under wraps in the interim because, according to Banner, he’s “a lightning rod.” Maybe the media will get another chance with Lombardi next week during the draft – likely they will – but maybe not. If Lombardi stays away, then, using Thursday’s presser as a barometer, the media’s number of sound bites will not be any less.
The only thing that came out of Thursday’s eventr – and it was somewhat significant – was Banner’s comments about how the organization will resolve situations where there are splits among the team’s deep thinkers in the draft room regarding player evaluations.
Those deep thinkers, as Banner explained, will be himself and Lombardi along with head coach Rob Chudzinski and defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Norv Turner is not part of the group because Chudzinski, with a deep background on offense, represents that side of the ball.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam will be present during the draft, of course, but, as Banner said, he would not have a strong voice because he has not evaluated film like the others in the group.
As Banner explained it, if two people like a player and two don’t, the Browns won’t draft that player and take someone for whom there is not consensus. Instead, the Browns will move to one of the four or five other players with about that same grade and try to find one of them for whom there is agreement.
Banner said that in his experience in the NFL, doing business that way gives a team a better chance to keep from making mistakes in the draft.
Other than that, though, the press conference was vintage Belichick – that is, say nothing and do it in few words, and leave the media wanting more, much more.
It’s an art form, really, and something that the Cleveland media and Browns fans haven’t seen since Belichick coached here from 1991-95.
Maybe it was just a throwback day.
But at the same time, the only thing that matters is how the Browns perform in the draft as this new regime makes its Cleveland debut. And if the Browns do well in that regard, then the members of the regime will get the last laugh – behind closed doors, of course.