Browns General Manager Mike Lombardi was the guest at the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s luncheon club on Monday, which meant that he spent a long period of time in front of a microphone talking and answering questions about his team.
It’s not something Lombardi has done a ton of since getting the job and one of the running themes of his appearance was evaluation. Lombardi talked about evaluating Brandon Weeden to see if he’s the long-term answer at quarterback, evaluating Jabaal Sheard to find out how he fits in the team’s new defensive scheme and evaluating center Alex Mack before deciding whether or not to sign him to a contract extension.
All of that evaluating and the trade of two 2013 draft picks for selections in 2014 led some to wonder if the Browns aren’t pinning all of their hopes on the future while looking past the season right in front of them. Lombardi was asked if that’s what the team was doing after being reminded that every new boss of the Browns has talked about building for futures that have wound up looking exactly like the past.
“I’m not sitting up here saying I’ve got a five-year plan, this is going to work. I’m telling you we’re building something. I’m not saying it’s for the future because I think it’s all going to come down to us making sure we make good decisions and moving forward. And I’m not asking for any more patience than anyone else,” Lombardi said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal. “I’m just saying we’re going to build this thing the right way so we can sustain success. We’re certainly, by no means, thinking about giving up on the season …We’re going to go in there and compete. We’ve got some pieces to compete with. This team last year was in a lot of close games, had a lot of opportunities in the fourth quarter. I think we can build on that.”
After years and years of talk about building foundations for the future and counseling patience as plans work toward fruition, it’s a tough sell to come back with more of the same. That’s not to say that they’re doing it wrong. Sustained success is obviously the goal of every NFL team and the new group running the Browns has every right to do it the way they believe is best. It’s just all sounds awfully familiar after years of evaluation and planning have left the team in the exact same place it started.