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Aug. 30, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Caleb Hanie (16) throws during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Criticizing the Browns over the 4th quarterback and 53rd man

It is unclear how the Cleveland Browns were competitive in the game with the New England Patriots when considering the fact that they did not sign the backup quarterback until this past week.  The Browns had criticisms lobbed at them including the words dysfunctional, unprofessional and not trying hard enough to to win games because they did not sign Alex Tanney until last week and Caleb Hanie until this week.  This actually happened and is still happening.

Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal and Scott Sargent and Craig Lyndall of WaitingForNextYear have both been propagating the idea the Browns front office have somehow failed its team and the fan base by not addressing the pivotal third string quarterback spot until last week.  WFNY even polled fans about this issue and there are fans rallying to this cause that the Browns are bad for not signing a third string quarterback quickly enough.  Apparently, the Browns should have signed one as soon as Brian Hoyer went down with an ACL injury in week 5, so the Browns would have had a better chance to compete in these games down the stretch.  Never mind the fact that none of these quarterbacks have seen the field and will likely never see the field.  Jason Campbell came back this past week to play after recovering from a concussion against Pittsburgh while Brandon Weeden will likely come back as the backup this week after suffering a concussion against Jacksonville; in which case, either Hanie or Tanney will likely be released.

But what if Hanie had seen the field?  This is Hanie’s fifth year in the league and he has thrown 116 passes in his career.  10 of those 116 passes have been intercepted.  Hanie was one play away from being on the field against the Patriots.  If only he had been around since week 5, a sleeping giant would have awoken and torched the Patriots and taken the league by storm.  How dare Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi, Ray Farmer, and Rob Chudzinski (because Chud has input on roster decisions) ignore this enormous talent and wait until week 14 to make this signing of Hanie as the backup.  Damn that Jason Campbell for not getting hurt to unleash this beast.  It remains to be seen how the front office will recover from this transgression if it can recover from it.

This is what fans of the Cleveland Browns have been reduced to discussing; the organization is incompetent because it did not sign a fourth quarterback fast enough for various members of the media.  When the season ends in three weeks, short of an unbelievably specific trivia question, no one is going to mention either quarterback ever again.  That should not stop this from being an issue that is dissected for multiple months and brought up as a legitimate criticism of the front office.

Along with this, both Ridenour and Lyndall have criticized the Browns for the evolving roster concept they have employed this year.  Apparently, the Browns are bad for doing what most every team in the league does, which is constantly trying to add talent, add short term needs, or even bring in players that can potentially bring in information about future opponents.  Lombardi credits this approach as something he learned from Bill Belichick, head coach of the extremely dysfunctional Patriots; the team currently in first place in the AFC East and fighting for the #1 overall seed in the playoffs.

The Patriots and Browns are certainly not the only teams that do this either; most every team in the league does it.  Look at league roundups on moves.  The Patriots have signed wide receiver Austin Collie three different times this season for example.  Nevertheless, this risky approach to roster management does not seem to be putting them at risk of failing to make the playoffs.

Criticizing the 50th to 53rd man on the roster to the handling of the 4th and 5th quarterbacks on the roster either reeks of being far too concerned with the short term and overanalyzing the day to day or worse; basically just hating the current front office and looking for any reason to make them look bad.  The fact that anyone could look at these issues as reasons to change their view of the front office is perplexing to say the least.

The Browns told the media and fans up front that they would be using this evolving roster concept.  They did it when the cuts were made and tried to add players to help the team when final cuts were made.  The front office has not stopped doing it and kept adding players to evaluate them in hopes of finding better players.   The team has been had, so the idea they are always looking for more players that can help them would seemingly be a smart move.  No, it is undermining the team’s special teams and preventing them from finding star quarterbacks that are currently walking the streets waiting to be signed and set free.

However people feel about how the Browns have gotten to this 4-9 record or where they go from here, two things are completely irrelevant to that discussion; the fourth and fifth quarterbacks and the end of the roster, but if this is deemed a necessary discussion, at least offer a solution or options.  There are plenty of issues to discuss about the choices the Browns have made and where they were right or wrong, but if these are the criticisms that people are coming up with, the Browns must have an outstanding front office.   That is taking valuable time and focus away from more important discussions like who won the Trent Richardson deal because that is still a debate for some in Cleveland.

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