We should probably never expect Mike Lombardi to write reasonably about any Browns player, manager, or presumptive draftee as long as Eric Mangini is coaching the team, and hopefully it will be soon enough that Lombardi can write something about the Browns and everybody can ignore it. But until then, here’s Lombardi’s latest, this time on Joe Haden:
According to coaches around the league, Browns first-round pick Joe Haden has not been very impressive in camps and might not have enough speed to play corner. Maybe all that talk about some in the organization wanted [sic.] to take Kyle Wilson over Haden was true.
So what are “coaches around the league” doing at Browns camp? Did Mangini invite them? Did he send out tapes? If so, he’s come along way from Spygate. Or is it Browns coaches who are leaking the info? Because they want the team to do poorly so they can lose their jobs?
Anyway, it’s mini-camp. They’re not even rushing the passer yet. They’re not even in pads. How much can we really know about a rookie cornerback after mini-camp?
Too many questions here, so let’s back up and review what we do know.
- We know that Mike Lombardi was calling for Eric Mangini to be fired as Browns head coach only half-way through last season, and in doing so displayed a massive disrespect for logic and integrity.
- We know that before Lombardi was fired from his position as a Raiders personnel guy and before Mangini took the head coaching job with the Jets, Lombardi once took a trip to interview Mangini for Oakland’s defensive coordinator position. Its safe to assume that Mangini rejected an offer by the Raiders. It’s also safe to speculate that Lombardi might have thought he could have gotten back into the league if “the right guy” was hired in Cleveland.
- We know (well, I know, and you will know after you read this) that Lombardi emailed me last season and said among other things that, “it is my right to not like [Mangini], and not have to justify my sources to you,” and that “Mangini will blow the [2010 draft], there is no doubt in my mind.”*
- We know that some three weeks before the 2010 draft, before the pre-draft smoke got thick and Haden was still the presumptive choice for the Browns, Lombardi “was hearing” that Joe Haden “wasn’t a top ten pick.“
- We know after completion of the 2010 draft’s first round, it was immediately floated that there was a split in Browns camp between Haden and eventual Jets’ first-round pick Kyle Wilson. What credible person would leak this kind of information if it was true is anyone’s guess.
So let’s connect the dots. A former NFL personnel exec who can no longer find a job in the league now writes a widely-read column based largely on anonymous sourcing. This columnist has demonstrated and confessed an unmistakable intent to exercise “his right not to like Eric Mangini,” and has invested his credibility in the conclusion that Mangini isn’t fit to be an NFL head coach. This columnist knows that if fans are irrationally impatient about anything, it’s draft picks, and when Joe Haden looks to be Eric Mangini’s presumptive choice as a first round pick, this columnist starts “hearing” that Haden won’t be any good. The Browns end up choosing Haden, sparking unfounded rumors that Kyle Wilson was the guy they really wanted. It soon becomes clear that with Sheldon Brown and Eric Wright around, the Browns have the flexibility to bring Haden along relatively slowly, giving cover to anyone who wants to inflame fan impatience and bring a head coach down by taking unfounded shots at the rookie cornerback. (“Hey, the first-rounder isn’t starting! What’s wrong with him? What’s wrong with this organization?!”)
Now Mike Lombardi is, amazingly, “hearing from coaches around the league” that Haden was “not very impressive in camps and might not have the speed to play corner,” and wondering if “maybe all that talk about some in the organization wanted to take Kyle Wilson over Haden was true.”
If anybody’s “too slow” here, it sure doesn’t seem to be Haden. One wonders if this guy would have a job if his last name wasn’t Lombardi. No relation, by the way.
That’s all for now. Back with more later. Hope everyone’s Tuesday gets off to a decent start in the meantime.
*Here’s another gem from a Lombardi email to me (all in a back-and-forth regarding his aforementioned Mangini hit-job at National Football Post):
“You have no clue, I have spent over 23 years in the NFL. Where did you learn the game? Can you get anyone from the NFL to return your calls?”
I meant to email Lombardi to tell him that I didn’t need to spend 23 years in the NFL or be able to get anyone from the NFL to return my calls to go 10-1 against the spread with my playoff picks (while he was flailing away at 5-6 with his on Bill Simmons’ podcast) but I never got around to it, which is sort of a bummer.