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Diner morning news: Quinn needs playing time

More topics: Jets and Gholston, Packers and Murphy. Michael Lombardi

Print This November 11, 2009, 10:30 AM EST

QUOTE: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – President John F. Kennedy

Thanks to all veterans who have served this country. Happy Veterans Day.

This morning, I thought I’d address some random topics around the NFL…

Who’s going to start at quarterback for the Browns?

As I have written many times before, the Browns do not have a legitimate starter at quarterback, so they need to settle on one player and let the team get accustomed to how he plays. They need to play Brady Quinn for an extended period and allow him to show his skill level, or lack of it. He has to play enough for the Browns as an organization to be 100-percent certain he can or can’t be the quarterback of the future. Also, the reality of the situation is that the Browns must use this time to get a sound evaluation of their talent level so they can move forward. They must use the second half of the season to give their young players experience so they can evaluate them.

Their ability to turn around this franchise lies in correctly evaluating the players currently on the roster. They must determine if these players have the skill level, the competitiveness, the work habits and the talent to help this team play at a championship level. The Browns can’t rely solely on a position coach to evaluate players; they need someone who can see the big picture and doesn’t have an agenda with each evaluation. The key to making a correct evaluation is to remove the agenda — and agendas are often based on who’s responsible for drafting the player, as we’ve seen in Kansas City this year. Talent alone does not always tilt the evaluation.

Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum said, “On all draft decisions, I have the final say. But organizationally, we felt good about Vernon. Although his rate of improvement isn't where we want it to be, we're still happy he's here and we feel good about his future.”

Of course, Eric “The Secret” Mangini is going to get blamed for drafting Vernon Gholston since there’s no one in the Jets building who wants to have their name associated with this selection. Now, I’ve been hard on Mangini more than once in this column, but the decision to draft Gholston was not his alone. If you believe that, then I’m sure you also believe in Arlen Specter’s single-bullet theory in Dallas in November 1963.

It’s not plausible that Mangini alone could make this call. Tannenbaum and his staff had grades from Gholston’s tape at Ohio State that would have put Gholston in the conversation at the top of the draft. I’m not saying they had him as a top-10 player, but they did not grade him as a backup special teams player because no matter how much Mangini would have fought for the player, that’s too much to overcome. Since Tannenbaum claims he has the final say, which I’m sure he does, he would’ve had to really anger his scouting staff to jump a player that high in the drafting process.

The reality is that everyone who graded Gholston was dead wrong. The only right grade would have been free-agent size/speed player. He was not a top-10 pick and he is not an effective backup special teams player. Being a little wrong is still being wrong, which at times is difficult for scouts to comprehend. Gholston has been a bust from the minute he walked on the field. As I told Rich Eisen of NFL Network, if he ever becomes a good player, I will walk from Los Angeles to Jersey. Not going to happen.

When it comes to the draft, mistakes happen. We all share in them, but the key is to learn from your mistakes and become a better scout. I’ve learned so much from the mistakes that I’ve made in my evaluations that they’ve helped me become a better scout. Tannenbaum is in denial since he’s left holding the Gholston bag and played a big part in the selection. He needs to admit what we all know — Gholston was a mistake -- and just move on.

Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that Packers president Mark Murphy said Monday he’s disappointed with the team’s 4-4 start, especially Sunday’s shocking loss at Tampa Bay, and wants to make sure “changes” are made. The former NFL player turned executive, who took over the Packers in January 2008, believes the season can be salvaged. He also may have put head coach Mike McCarthy on notice. “We’re 4-4 halfway through the season,” Murphy said, “and I think we can still have a successful year just making sure that we make the changes that are necessary to get us to that point.”

I thought the job of the Packers president was to be seen and not heard. I don’t remember former Packers president Bob Harlan ever speaking about the football team directly to the media. I might be wrong, and all loyal Packers readers are welcome to correct me, but from my vantage point, the team president doesn’t have to state the obvious. Mark Murphy appears that he wants to be more involved in the football part of the program as the new president. Anyone other than the head coach talking to the media can send the wrong message to the fan base as evidenced by Murphy’s comments.

What changes would Murph like the Packers to make? Does he really understand the problems? I highly doubt it, and the way to create bad blood in an organization is to say something that makes no sense when you have no idea what you’re saying. I’m fairly confident that the Packers coaches are cynical about these comments.

There was a reason Bob Harlan never addressed football issues during the season.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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