At the NFL's owners' meetings last week, Hue Jackson was peppered with what felt like a million questions about … you guessed it: the Browns' quarterback situation.
The first-year Cleveland coach fielded a spectrum of inquiries from reporters in Boca Raton, Florida. Some were general in nature — Why have QBs played well under your tutelage? What does it take to be successful as a signal caller? What kind of player do you want at the position? — and some far more specific.
Will the Browns sign Robert Griffin III? (They did later in the week) What about the former Redskins star and Heisman Trophy winner caught your eye? Can North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz handle the level of competition in the NFL? Will Cleveland — which holds the second overall pick — still use its top pick on a quarterback with Griffin in the fold?
"I think we all know and recognize we're trying to find a quarterback," Jackson told reporters, "and we'll do so. It's been one of our missions because we want to make sure our team is prepared to have the best of the best at every position if we can get it."
Indeed, Jackson has made it clear the Browns are in pursuit of a franchise quarterback — be it with current members of the roster or via the league's draft in April.
And it starts, Jackson said, by creating the right environment for quarterbacks to be successful.
"Everything we do," he said, "is about the quarterback."
"We create an environment to make our quarterbacks precious. Our practices are about the quarterback. Our meetings are about the quarterback," Jackson continued.
Jackson, who spent the past two seasons as Cincinnati's offensive coordinator, has had success molding quarterbacks in his last two assistant coaching positions. He helped Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to what was perhaps his best season in the league and played a part in drafting Joe Flacco to Baltimore when he was the team's quarterbacks coach from 2008-09.
"We look through this through the eyes of the quarterback, not so much through the eyes of anything else. Because we all know, if your quarterback plays well in the National Football League, you have a chance to win. And if he doesn't, you have no chance at winning. That's how we see it."
The Browns, of course, have had a long-documented struggle in maintaining continuity at the position. That's something Jackson wants to change. And to be sure, he and Cleveland are laying the groundwork for that to happen.
"It's the environment I think that the organization — along with myself — creates," Jackson said. "I believe in our process to get guys to do what we need them to do. And as long as a guy is willing to put in the work, and he understands there's a lot to do — there's more to playing quarterback than just throwing the ball or handing the ball off — you've got a lot of responsibilities , just like I do."
The Browns currently feature quarterbacks on the roster in Griffin, who joined the team last week in free agency, veteran Josh McCown, Austin Davis and Connor Shaw. They're also evaluating signal callers in this year's draft, including California's Jared Goff and North Dakota State's Carson Wentz among others.
Regardless of the direction the team takes, Jackson said there's a certain standard that must be met.
"As long as you can make guys understand that, whether they're young guys coming up in the draft — I'm not saying anything to you guys that I haven't said to the young guys, too — there's just a way we're going to do it here," Jackson said, "and guys have got to meet that expectation."