In the Browns press conference Monday that was designed to introduce new quarterback Jake Delhomme but ended up being much more far ranging, Browns President Mike Holmgren and second-year head coach Eric Mangini shared quite a few thoughts on the team's two new signal callers. Delhomme, who Mangini said showed up earlier for Monday's first unofficial offseason workout, did not attend the press conference.
That left Holmgren and Mangini to extol his virtues despite the 35-year old coming off his worst NFL season with the Carolina Panthers - his 12th overall in the league.
The pair also shared the role that Seneca Wallace, 29, might have with the Browns after spending his seven NFL seasons as the backup in Seattle. Having previously coached Wallace, Holmgren didn't seem phased by his inexperience - in 14 career starts, Wallace owns just five wins.
Asked pointedly how the team's quarterback position is better after trading for "a career back-up and aging veteran", Holmgren did not dodge the question or dance around the truth the way Mangini is known to do.
"That doesn’t sound that great, huh?" Holmgren joked. "One, the ‘career backup’ (Wallace) played for me so I know him better than any quarterback that has been mentioned in this room. I think he is a potential starter. Yes, he has been a backup, but he has been a backup to a Pro Bowl player. Mark Brunell was a backup for me to Brett Favre and he went to the Pro Bowl. You get into a situation and you are a career backup, but that’s a phrase and I’m not sure exactly what that means sometimes.
"As far as the ‘aging veteran,’ (Delhomme) my own belief is this team needs an aging veteran. They need a guy who’s going to grab everybody by the throat and say follow me through that door. That’s what we need. I don’t look at him as an aging veteran. I look at him as the leader that I wanted in the locker room, if in fact, he is the starter.”
All that being said, Holmgren reiterated a few times Monday that Delhomme was not "promised" a starting spot, despite being paid $7 million in the first year of the two-year contract with the Browns.
Holmgren also shot down the theory that Wallace's lack of height is a problem.
"Isn't he six-feet tall?" Holmgren said. "I think Drew Brees kind of settled some of that for everybody last year. It is an issue at times, absolutely. You’d like a little taller quarterback, I think. It’s been my experience that the guys who are good and not as tall, not the 6-3, 6-4 guys, they have learned to see in the pocket. They have learned to either move, see lanes or they are comfortable with it. Most of them can move very well.
"It did not appear to me in my time with Seneca that (height) was a major problem. He had pretty good vision down the field and he has great movement. He’s an explosive runner and he’s a very dangerous guy that way."