MOBILE, Ala. -- There’s only one voice that matters inside a huddle, and that’s the quarterback, as he is responsible for getting the plays from the coaches on the sidelines, and leading 10 other men to the end zone.
Along with the other 31 teams in the NFL, the Cleveland Browns are spending the week in Mobile, Alabama, for the 2014 Senior Bowl, where they get a live look how players handle coaching from NFL staffs and are able to process and read the field.
“The No. 1 most critical variable is a kid’s ability to make decisions, processing speed, how quickly he can decipher, “What’s going on? What’s happening? What’s the defense doing? Which direction are they coming from?’” said Browns assistant general manager Ray Farmer.
“How much information can you process in 2.5 seconds? The really good ones, they process a lot, and it’s not just the 2.5. It’s the five seconds at the line of scrimmage. It’s while you’re standing in the huddle and you make the call. You’re mentally going through, ‘If I get this, here are my options. If I get this, here are my options.’”
According to Farmer, when examining the leadership components of a quarterback, front-office decision-makers tend to watch “the things in-between plays” more than how the players run the calls. They also watch what players are talking to the coaches, who, they deem as those athletes that are trying to perfect their crafts.
“It’s also the command,” Farmer said. “It’s the guy that when he steps in the huddle, guys start to really come on and perform for him. It’s the pieces of the puzzle that you can get. You watch and you’ve got guys like Logan Thomas and he’s out there talking to other people, shaking hands.
“He’s a connector. He’s initiating the camaraderie aspect of the game. He’s pulling his teammates in. He’s building camaraderie for the group, and now, it’ll be interesting to see how the guys respond to him Do guys play better with him? Do they want to work when he’s in at quarterback?”
In addition to how quarterbacks handle the coaching they receive in-between plays, the Browns want to make sure those charged with leading the team have true football knowledge and an understanding of the game.
“When you do have the conversation with him, you can figure out two things,” Farmer said. “There are a lot of guys that can talk football, but there’s not a lot of guys that can play football. There’s a difference in processing information.
“If you put them on the board, and you say, ‘Draw up trips right. Draw up this route. Draw up this coverage. Where are you going with the ball?,’ he is kind of taking his time to figure it out.”
Farmer said that when evaluating a quarterback’s knowledge of the game and ability to process information, finding players with the greatest ability to do those things well will benefit the rest of the team.
“If you have the right guy, if you have a special guy at his position, he can cover up holes,” Farmer said. “Some guys can cover up holes. Some guys, the average people would call a game-manager, but to me, game managers can have success.
“It’s identifying guys that make those people around you better, get the most out of them. It’s about distributing the ball on time, in rhythm, allowing the offense to work because the NFL’s chess, not checkers. It’s not about putting the most talented guys out there. It’s about putting out guys that can operate and execute.”
ClevelandBrowns.com's coverage of the 2014 Senior Bowl is Driven by Liberty Ford.