Adkins: The Tough Questions

OBR Football Analyst Lane Adkins addresses anything and everything going on with the Browns in these selections provided by OBR readers from the exclusive Ask the Insiders forum.

Below are a compiled list of questions from OBR insiders and answers from Lane Adkins in OBR's exclusive Ask the Insiders forum.

Please note all copy [sic]'d.


Building Blocks

kmack34: I thought Bill Cowher made a very poignant remark on sunday when he said that the Browns need to play a perfect game right now to win because of their talent level.  They of course will not have many perfect games so the results at the end of the year will be disappointing.  But as hard as it is to watch sometimes I do see improvement and it seems that the team may be one season (and off season of talent acquisition) away from the light bulb coming on and looking good.  You can see the foundation.

My fear is that after another loosing season (no matter how much progress) the pressure will be too great and that foundation will be blown up with a new coach brought in and here we go again... I'm no Mangini apologist and do think that Daboll has to go either way and I like the thought of some of the names out there (Gruden).  But it seems that the constant 2-3 year fire/hire cycle is like trying to catch lighting in a bottle.  I know you can alway point to examples of a win "bump" from certain coaching hires but how do they hold up over time?

I hate the sound of waiting another season as much as anyone, but as they say, it is what it is.  So my question is, do you guys see the same thing or is it just not going to work out with this group?  and also do you think that Mangini could survive another loosing season and the pressure that Holmgren would be in to make a change?

Adkins' Answer: I believe, unless this team shows a significant improvement overall in comparison to the 2009 season, we are going to see a change in staff and philosophy.

The potential lock-out could prolong the status of those on staff.

At 0-3, Mangini and company are not on the verge of being shown the door just yet, but the temperamental Mike Holmgren may be getting an itchy trigger finger.


Losing Trust In Players?

houndfromhell: I have to wonder why Daboll calls a lot of his play`s with what seems like the wrong player to best excell in certain play`s.  What I mean is, Does the Browns coaches no longer trust Harrison because of the fumbles he`s made this year? I know he didnt play last week because he was hurt. It was after his last fumble, that he is no longer considered for the starter position. While it`s true, theres no excuse for fumbles, it still happens every so often. How does he gain back the trust? From pratice?

This is noticeable during the games. When Hillis fumbled the last time, he was invisable for the remainder of that game. Dont they worry that by sitting them, that they lose confidense?

Why did they only give James Davis a couple carries? I know Hillis was HOT, but Davis deserves a chance to at least break a sweat. I beleive I see a pattern developing with Dabol`s play calling. Who ever catches the ball on the 1st pass to them, is now main and only target that they throw to. Same with the R.B.`s. Make 3 yard`s and you get the ball until you make a mistake (and have to go sit on the bench), or are so winded, they must take a breather. Last week, every play that had Hillis involved, it seem`s Wallace would force the ball to him. Fake a handoff, watch Hillis run toward the sideline then toss a screen to him, with half the Ravens defense standing there waiting on him.

Why not pair all of our talented R.B.`s, up and use all 4 of them? Harrison and Vicker`s` did a great job together last year. You could even play Davis and Hillis together. Those 2 in the same backfield would remind the older Browns fan`s of Mack and Byner.

I hope the lack of touches last week for Davis wasnt because they dont trust him. Even though Hillis was HOT,

Davis can also produce above average yard`s for us. That was his first touches from scrimage this regular season. Give him a few more to warm up. If the fact is they dont trust Harrison and Davis enough to call the same plays when their in there, then it`s time to trade them or cut the ties and try other R.B.`s. I sure hope that`s not the case, because all 4 R.B.`s are capable of winning with this team, and they can all catch. Combine the play time so all 4 can play, and it will only make the offense stronger.

My lenghtly question is, do you think that these players fall out of favor to quickly, only to be benched????

Adkins' Answer: After repeated and numerous errors, mental and physical, players eventually fall out of favor, it's simply a fact of life in the NFL.

Produce or be replaced.

Until we view it on more than a very occasional type basis in pre-season, there is no way in telling whether James Davis can be a factor, or player that can be counted on to contribute in more than a special teams type capacity.

There has to be a trust factor between the coaches and those lining-up on game-day. It does appear, this staff takes a longer duration of time before providing or enabling a player, which is questionable due to the lack of difference-makers within this roster and the potential of player(s) not gaining an opportunity.


What's Wrong with Wright?

WildBillDC: Any word on what might have been wrong with him on Sunday?

Adkins' AnswerEric Wright has trouble with bigger, more physical type receivers. Whereas Wright can get away with jumping of routes against lesser talent, the Ravens took the game to the Browns CB and exploited his tendencies.

Rob Ryan (DC) should have adjusted once it became obvious the Ravens were going to attack Wright with Boldin consistently, but he didn't and the Browns paid the price.


More on Wright's Difficulties

redright: All the NFL knows that Wright has these difficuties.  How do you think Ryan will address this problem?

The Ravens noticed on film that Wright has trouble with bigger, physical type receivers. Wright also takes many chances, he jumps routes often on the first move when in man coverage.

Wright has a tendency to slide, rather than power inside the hashes when in coverage. Also, the Browns defense has been slow in coverage inside the hashes to the post, which is generally a safety issue, but when the CB loses leverage, its game over if the pass attempt is accurate.

Ryan is known for selling out and slow in making a move on a player he believes in. The Ravens simply found the Browns in man and changed out the progression and attacked

Adkins' Answer: I believe Ryan will put Wright in the same position and see if he overcomes the issue. If not, we may see more 2 or 3 scheme to help mask the deficiency.

Additionally, I see no reason for the CB's to lock on certain side responsibility. Rotating the CB's on side responsibility can help alleviate teams seeking the specific match-up, such as a more physical Sheldon Brown pressing a more physical type receiver, or potentially rookie Joe Haden, a young player that shows a boat-load of promise.


Could Harrison Be Dealt?

FaithInPhil: I was watching the Packers Bears game last night and it became apparent that the Packers are 1st round and out playoff team if they have to pass every single down.  Harrison is in the last year of his contract and it is clear the Browns want to go with bigger backs.  Could you forsee him getting traded for maybe a 3rd or something?

Adkins' Answer: I wouldn't be overly surprised if the organization attempts to deal Harrison. There is an obvious issue between he and the coaching staff due to the fumble issues, as well as the nagging injury concerns.

I don't believe the Browns could gain a third round selection in return for the RB, his value is not viewed nearly as high around the league as it is with Browns fans.


Predictable Play Calling

OPENUP: Trying to build a clear mental picture. Reviewing the first three games, there were about 30 plays where I disagreed with the call as they broke the huddle and began running the play on Offense and Defense.  In other words before the play completely unfolded I was screaming at my TV.

Now here is the question:  Recalling your thoughts as the game progressed, if  the offense and defense had run the plays you had in mind before the huddle broke, would the difference have been enough that you believe the outcome would have been  wins instead of losses?

I'm not asking that you try to rewrite the past only this:  Given the same players and the thoughts you were having during the game  you were probably thinking "do this, do this", then an asinine play was called, both on offense and defense.

Summary:  Taking Lane's comments to me about " the team's attitude being good"  last week, and then seeing the effort they put into the game, and the mistakes the safeties made and the qb and receivers made I see a team that is good enought to win all three games but coaches that aren't.  An armchair qb like me shouldn't be able to predict a play on either side of the ball on O or D.

Adkins' Answer: This is a tough one to realistically answer for a few reasons.

I could be thinking a play differing from that of the OC, but a defense generally would react to the play or change at the line of scrimmage, thus making the result unknown.

Despite this, I certainly have a different thought process than the OC and would attack a defense differently on many occasions.

I pinpoint plays or defensive scheme looks throughout the game, and note those which have not appeared to be the proper call or blown assignment in the scheme. Execution, or the lack of plays into the equation for this team tremendously through three games.

I wouldn't say the talent base has been good enough to win three games thus far, nor would I lay the defeat at the hands of the coaches. The result has been a combined effort of the team, offense, defense and the coaching staff.

The biggest problem with this team is the lack of play-makers, difference-makers at positions which matter most -- QB, WR and RB remains a question.

Defensively, this team is going to struggle to stop the opposition on a consistent basis if they are unable to pressure the QB. The DC is aggressive and places this defense in many tough situations, and at times the defensive backs will be burned, as was the case this past Sunday.


What's with Shaun Rogers?

donodawg: During training camp, the story was, "Don't worry about Shaun Rogers, he's just saving up his energy for the regular season. "

Then in practice, we heard that Rogers was tossing offensive linemen around like doll babies, and was ready to roll. Now, he plays little or not at all.

So I'm thinking that it's either:

1)  Not only is he not interested in training camp, he's not interested in playing at all.  He gets the check either way.  This is his last year.

2)  He wasn't just saving up his energy during training camp, that ankle injury is severe, or chronic, or both, and he can't play effectively for any decent stretch of time.  Again, this is his last year.

3)  New injury, although I don't remember hearing any details about any new injury.  Is it the hip injury?  Is the hip injury serious?

4)  In Mangini's dog house, or out of shape, or both.

5)  Combinations of above, or other.

Any of these have a ring of truthiness?  Is there another explanation?

Adkins' Answer: Rogers is not near 100%, his lower leg has been a minor issue, but he is suffering from a injury in the hip region that has robbed his explosiveness.

What we are seeing from Rogers is something I noted months ago when the discussion was of him playing DE. I was extremely skeptical he would be effective at end due to his mindset of jumping the count and beating a slower and less athletic center or guard.

At DE, Rogers has to basically cover more ground, have more defensive responsibilities and cannot free-lance as he did on numerous occasions at NT/DT. His initial quickness and burst are much less a factor at DE and he does not appear to be nearly as active and happy at end.

He' not in the dog-house and is in good physical shape, though good shape and football shape can be vastly different. Without training camp sessions and additional season practice sessions, Rogers could be far from being in the condition he needs to be.


Kevin Kolb

brownsrthebest04: Lane have we talked with reid and the eagles about kolb? if so have we offered anything at this point?

Adkins' Answer: Yes, the Browns have investigated the possibility of acquiring Kevin Kolb and were shut-down immediately.

The Eagles are in a precarious position at QB, with Michael Vick looking like the second coming on the last year of his deal, while the future of the Eagles QB position has been basically sat-down due to Vick's excellent play.

It's going to be interesting to see if the Eagles indeed their depth and long-term QB of the future, personally I don't believe it is going to occur prior to the trading deadline.


Does Defense Philosophy Predicate the Quality of Pass Rush?

eisman: There has been a lot of discussion about the lack of pass rush by the Browns.  I wonder if it is a by-product of the defensive philosophy of the Browns.  Associated with each defensive philosophy is an 'ideal' style of player.  For the Browns defensive line, it appears that the 'ideal' lineman is large and strong so they can hold their ground, contain blockers (hopefully multiple), and then flow to the ball.  Speed and quickness seemed to be less emphasized.  However, the Browns' ideal lineman attributes are not necessarily the desired attributes to effectively rush the passer.  Assuming that the Browns have stocked themselves with their 'ideal' lineman, that leaves the team with one position (a 'linebacker') to be the primary pass rusher. With only one pass rusher position, it is easily countered leading to a need to blitz.

Is this thought process too simplistic?  If not, then what is the motivation for having our style of defense in the almost 'pass first' philosophy of the NFL today?

Adkins' Answer: The Browns 3-4 defensive scheme is built on the premise of physicality.

Gap recognition and responsibility of the down-linemen draw as maintaining the point of attack, enabling LB's to flow to the football, to make plays, to rush the QB, etc.

The LB spots within this roster are also built on the premise to physically beat on the opposition, to create turnovers and contain the run.

The Browns defensive scheme is designed to rush the QB off the edges, with an ability due to athleticism and quickness to provide interior push.

In the 2010 season thus far, the pass rush coming from the OLB's has been a step slow in developing for the most part. The opposing QB's has found the lack of interior push has created a pocket for the QB to step into, whereas a season ago, especially during the second half of the season, the Browns created push inside at times limiting the opposition.

Another aspect that requires attention is the blitz packages of the Browns. A season ago, these packages did create some pressure, sacks and turnover opportunities. Thus far in 2010, the same has not occurred.

Overall, the Browns defense has played better, performed at a higher level, has been more consistent, but has failed to create pressure which could change the complexion of any game -- any of the three played thus far.


Injury Concerns

eisman: Why all the injuries this year?  Ten starters are on the injured list.  Knowing that the coaching staff of this team tends to understate things (e.g. the current situation with Delhomme), one would expect that this might be an understated number.  Is this another example of badluck or does it talk to the type of players on the team?

Adkins' Answer: The Browns tend to shy away from discussing injuries and generally don't discuss them as an excuse escape.

This season, the Browns have been stung with some strange type injuries and these challenge the talent and depth within a team roster.

All teams line-up players that are hurting, playing with physical issues, some teams overcome and are successful, others such as the Browns that do not field a top-talent base cannot afford a front-line player to be missing.

Until the Browns can find, develop difference-maker type talent, nearly every injury will cast a negative stone on the team.


WR & LB Talent

kmack34: Coaching not withstanding, it's my theory that what this team needs to at least be competitive (and by that I mean winning some games not just staying close in them, although that is an improvement I guess) is a true #1 WR and a couple of playmakers at LB.

I like all our WRs but it seems to me they're all truly 2s and 3s.  I think Cribbs and Massaquoi would be great complementary  receivers and Stuckey and Robiskie would serve as good possession receivers.  unless you have an all pro at QB, you can always use an upgrade there, but without a true #1 WR I'm sure we know exactly what we have in Delhome or Wallace.

On D, our young secondary will continue to develop and it seems that if we had some playmakers in front of them (especially at LB) it would help a ton.  The 3-4 seems to rely heavily on it's LBs and I like ours but none are real game changers.

Now to become a perennial playoff contender we could use a few others parts too, but right now I'm just talking about being truly competitive.  But that I think we could do this in a single off season.

So my question is do you guys agree?  And do the guys in charge (Holmgren & Heckert) know this (even though they won't openly admit it at this point) and do you see them addressing these areas in the off season?

Thanks for your time and hard work.

Adkins' Answer: Can't argue with your assessment, I have been calling it the same.

The Browns have found ways to be competitive, which is an improvement, but a team needs play-makers, difference-makers to be successful at this level.

With a group of 2's and 3's at WR, teams do not have to aggressively scheme for the Browns beating them over the top. With Jake Delhomme out of the line-up, the likelihood of the Browns offense finding the right or open receiver on a consistent basis drops dramatically.

As for the LB's, the Browns scheme prohibits much, but these LB's are much more in tune to being physical, the type of LB's generally that can wear a RB down.

This does little to get to the QB without timely blitz packages, which exposes the defensive backfield.


When Will Haden Start?

johntyler: why didnt they put haden in for wright - he was playing like a little girl.  at least haden puts out.  are they afraid to hurt wrights feelings?

dont you think we need a change there now?  is this staff too slow to make adjustments whether it be personnel or calls

they had all three games won they gave them away

Adkins' Answer: Haden was on the field often, every time the Ravens went 3 WR sets.

Pulling Wright would have shown a lack of confidence in the player, one which this team believes is a very good CB.

Not saying the philosophy was the correct one, I don't, but I know why they didn't make the move.

With Boldin being bigger, stronger and much more physical than Wright, I anticipated the Browns would look to provide over the top help more often than they did.

As the game wore on, it was easy to pin-point Wright had lost some confidence, as he jumped at every first move Boldin made and looked foolish on numerous occasions.

The Ravens went into the game targeting Wright, they acknowledged as much and the Browns DC did little to offset the obvious. The Baltimore OC knew the tendencies of the Browns DC  and matched-up well in those specific opportunities.

Wright played as poor of a game as I have viewed coming from a CB in a long time and teams are going to attack Wright, the Browns better be prepared.

As for Joe Haden and Sheldon Brown, both are much more physical and have played well.


Is Mangini Full of Crap?

billbrasky09: He keeps telling us what it takes to be successful, but mostly all he does, in reality, is lose football games.

Adkins' Answer: Successful teams have dynamic presence type players, this Browns team does not have that type of player at this time.

Sitting at 0-3 is a disappointment for any team, and the inability to gain difference makers keeps this team a step short.

The opposition does not have to fully respect the Browns offense and will take chances and scheme in ways they may not generally do because of this aspect.

The Browns have been competitive and the ordinary type talent at WR and QB plays heavily into the losing equation.

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