By Michael Reghi
Tom Heckert got it right. He stayed true to his beliefs. He did so while making a substantial offer to move up two spots for the opportunity to select the SECOND-best quarterback among the 2012 crop. Heckert gave us his formula for ripping up a terrible roster upon his February 2012 arrival as the Browns’ GM. You must build through the draft to sustain success in the NFL. Tried and true, that's a proven principle. Show me any of the last ten Super Bowl winners who have been successful doing it any other way, as in large free agency splurges? You can't, because they don't exist.
Heckert also identified the positions of greatest importance. Franchise quarterback, offensive left tackle, rush defensive end or outside linebacker, and ball-hawking corners. Everything else falls into place behind that in order of importance. He used this formula in Philadelphia, and it was a significant factor in delivering 5 NFC Championship games, and a Super Bowl during his tenure with the Eagles. Yes, the Browns need their franchise quarterback...no bulletin there. Yet, you MUST be convinced ten times over, that upon making that declaration, you will not fail. Ask Ernie Acorsi, former Browns GM, who pulled that trigger with the Giants for Eli Manning in 2004. It’s worked for two Super Bowl victories, yet if you go back and look at Manning's first two seasons in New York City; he didn't immediately come in and deliver big. Virtually no
Top 10 quarterback who begins with a bad team has experienced instant success. Wonder how your Browns 'patience barometer' would hold up with a rookie quarterback going through his pitfalls and learning curve, struggling more often than not, and hanging up a couple more 5-11 and 6-10 seasons, before MAYBE becoming the franchise quarterback who leads Cleveland to the Promised Land?
Don't tell me you'd be willing 'to ride that out'. I’m not buying it. And I DON'T WANT to roll that way. The Browns must take some significant steps this season to make you believe that Heckert's formula is working. He knows that. Mike Holmgren does too. And the largest reason why I've been able to endure the 4-12 of 2012 is I'm completely aware, as are others around the NFL, exactly what Tom Heckert walked into in February of 2010. The WORST ROSTER in the NFL! Don't believe me? Here goes. The following are STARTERS on both sides of the ball, brought here by head coach, general manager, director of pro personnel, top decision maker, and all omnipotent one, Eric Mangini. You ready for this?
Kenyon Coleman, CJ Mosley, Eric Barton, David Bowens, Jason Trusnick, Blake Costanzo, Abe Elam and Hank Poteat.
Robert Royal, Chansi Stuckey, John St. Clair, and Floyd Womack.
Draft Choices 2009 (Fortunately, the ONLY draft presided over by the roster-wrecker)
Brian Robiskie, Mo Massaquoi, and David Veikune. Will give Mangini his Alex Mack...way to go, personnel genius! ONE solid contribution acquired that wasn't a Jet.
That's fifteen! 15 players! One third of an NFL roster, ALL 15 started either the majority of the time, or were given solid opportunities to be starters, during 2009 and 2010. That's in your frontline 22, combining offensive and defensive sides of the ball! Need I say more!? And, the 2010 season was augmented by Heckert bringing in Peyton Hillis, Benjamin Watson, Scott Fujita, Chris Gocong, Sheldon Brown, and the draft choices, Joe Haden, TJ Ward, Colt McCoy, etc. to help that terrible mess.
The roster Heckert took over was slow, aging and not capable of winning then.....let along going forward! He had to blow up that horrific, unsightly mess. And he has. It was, and is, the only way he believes he should proceed. Any of those Mangini 'talents' helping anyone else in the NFL today? A joke of a roster. A complete disaster.
Don't try to sell me the 4-12 was a 'step down' from the pair of 5-11's in '09 and '10. Laughable. Remember how you felt when '09 began -- 1-11 before the wins over NFL lesser-lights Kansas City, Oakland, and Jacksonville, along with an 8-8 Pittsburgh to end the season? How about '10. Sure, Heckert started to clean up the roster. They began 5-7, and then lost the last four games, including the 41-9 pasting by the hated Steelers here in Cleveland. If they were 8-8, even 7-9 I'd feel uneasy falling back to 4-12. Not the case here.
Keep drafting with strength, Tom Heckert...add a couple of free agent signings that augment your third draft for the Browns, and the overhaul of the worst roster problem in the NFL will just about be cleansed.
Heckert got it right in not caving to the whims of Daniel Snyder, through the St. Louis Rams. This way, it gives the Browns a much more legitimate opportunity to become relevant again, as in starting by becoming a playoff team....sooner rather than later!
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