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.

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Improving the Pass Defense

jeffopolka: Is there something different that can be done from a defensive scheme perspective to slow down this pattern of giving up huge pass plays?   Every team (except us) has a scary #1 receiver that will light us up week after week unless/until we can do something about it.

Adkins' Answer: The safeties have struggled at times in coverage. Poor recognition and angles have been a consistent look, and Elam gets caught far too often looking into the backfield.

While rookie safety TJ Ward has shown to be a tackling machine, he does need to improve his immediate recognition and reactionary skills, and this should improve with experience.

With Ryan's love of the blitz, teams have caught the Browns with their pants down and have had success against man coverage.

Expect every team with a true dynamic at WR to attack the Browns defensive backfield vertically until either man or cover-two can stop the onslaught or the over top help eliminates positive gains.

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Eric Wright's Issues

idrthrbncleve: Is it my imagination or was Eric Wright not only torched again but picked on mercilessly? What is wrong with him?  Why all of a sudden this year?  Has he not been well taught? Has he broken down in some way or lost focus? Is he being asked to do things differently?  Or is it just that he is being left on an island and never was before?

Adkins' Answer: The Browns have played a little more man, as was the plan heading into the season. But, the defense is going to utilize an increasing Cover-two type scheme.

An issue to keep an eye on is some communication type problems we are seeing in coverage. The safeties have been late in coverage when a WR is being released. At times, a WR has been released and the S was not positioned for the coverage.

This appears to be an ongoing issue, especially when the offense attacks Eric Wright. What we are seeing is a player not playing with the confidence he has in the past, these couple games have definitely gotten to his mindset.

The best way to resolve this issue is to provide him over top help and put him in position to regain his confidence.

One aspect of the Browns CB play has been the lack of press or bump on WR off the line, which can disrupt the timing of routes between a QB and WR, and could enable the pass rush to have an additional moment to create pressure.

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More Eric Wright

mattvan1: TV view only, but I could have sworn I saw some pass coevrage schemes late in the game with Wright playing well off the LOS, almost as a FS.  Were my eyes playing tricks on me?

Adkins' Answer: Wright was in a back-pedal often against the Bengals, rather than pressing and getting a chuck at the pointy of attack to throw off the timing between the QB and WR.

Wright also plays the nickel, inside CB.

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Even More Wright

brownsouth: Wright has been torched badly for two weeks in a row.  Is there a reason he's still on the field?  Is it Mangini stubborness or is no one else available?

Adkins' Answer: Wright is playing not to make a mistake and has the look of a CB that has lost some confidence -- which is absolutely the worst thing that can happen to a CB.

A week ago Wright was all out of whack. His fundamentals and technique were unbalanced and the opposition went at him hard. While the entire issue of inefficiency can not be solely placed on him, he played a major role in the demise.

Against Cincinnati, Wright again struggled when lined-up opposite Terrell Owens, another bigger type receiver. But from viewing this game, I continue to see some issue of communication between the CB's and safeties.

Teams are going to continue attacking Wright until he proves he can shut-down the opposition or is given a lesser role of responsibility and another CB, such as rookie Joe Haden begins to play a more prominent role.

Struggling in a couple games should not warrant a player being thrown to the wolves, but rather the coaching staff must put the player in a position to regain confidence and play as he has in the past.

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Daboll's Scheme?

redright: So what is the Brian Daboll Scheme?

Adkins' Answer: Looks like he wants to rely on a power running game and short to intermediate passing game at the present.

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Coaches Scuffle?

brownsrthebest04: Lane there is a thread in the obr football forum about a little pushing match with cox and mangini with ryan having to get in the middle and break it up along with other players.....any idea what caused this and if cox is going to lose his job over this one? after all he did fight with the boss?

Adkins' Answer: I have heard the rumors of this occurring during the game, but from all I have spoken with late Sunday and Monday tell me this did not occur to the level some are noting.

Yes, there was a confrontation and the HC and defensive line coach did get into a heated back and forth.

There were words between three coaches and the HC was believed to be more than simply pissed about something done on the defensive end -- and made a point to point it out to Cox and then Ryan.

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Better Than '09?

DRANOEL: Even though they may not win as many games as last season, are the Browns a better team this year than last year?

Adkins' Answer: The development of the 2010 team hinges on the development at the WR position, while the play at QB must prove to be able to lead a team to victory.

Sounds relatively simple, but this is exactly two aspects that cannot be denied.

Jake Delhomme was brought in here to lead and help enable the youth, especially in the receiving facet of the game. While Seneca Wallace has not performed poorly, he does not look to the WR's like Delhomme does, he checks to TE's early and often.

I agree, this is a better overall team. The overall play along the defensive line and at LB has fundamentally improved, though the team has been unable to generate a consistent pass rush, which has hampered some of the progress, and especially has helped expose issues in the defensive backfield.

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Lack of No. 1 WR

ramllov: The Browns might have four WRs capable of catching the ball when Jake Delhomme returns.  Robiskie and Mo Mass were his key receivers when he practiced in the preseason and first week.  Cribbs and Stuckey continue to develop with Seneca Wallace the past three games.

So, if Jake Delhomme starts this week, not only does he have options at Robiskie and Mo Mass, but Cribbs and Stuckey have improved.  The TEs & RBs remain constant and consistent receivers.

Since the opposing team's defense does not have one WR that needs to be eliminated and four players are viable options, is it an advantage to the Browns?

It seems that Brees thinks the open receiver is his favorite receiver, can Jake Delhomme and Brian Daboll plan an offensive scheme where on specific plays, different WRs become the WR of a specific play and mix it up enough to keep the opposing defense guessing?

Adkins' Answer: Through four games, the opposition has defended the Browns offense in the same manner with a very consistent result.

Teams can effectively man the Browns WR's, as the threat is minimal due to the inability to be a vertical type offense in scheme to this point. Until the Browns can demonstrate the ability to threaten vertically, teams are going to cheat off the WR's and squeeze the field.

Defenses are willing to give the Browns offense short outs by the TE's, knowing this is what QB Seneca Wallace progresses to quickly. When Delhomme is on the field, teams will squeeze him until he proves the ability to at least stretch the field.

This is an aspect we'll see a difference in between the two Browns QB's and was a look growing in the season opener prior to the INT and injury.

Another facet  not to be overlooked is the ability to change into a different play or protection scheme at the line of scrimmage.

In the season opener, Delhomme often changed the package at the line of scrimmage, which is a major plus when the execution is on target. This is something we have not witnessed in the past three games with Wallace under center -- obviously the staff does not have the trust in Wallace as they do Delhomme at this time.

Ordinary talent at the WR position does little to provide an opportunity to have a dynamic offensive passing game, The talent level presently in place only proves this team must run the ball effectively, shorten the game and minimize mistakes to win on game-day.

This past Sunday, the Browns played much like they did late in the 2009 season. The offensive line rose to the occasion and Hillis pounded the Bengals defense -- and they knew what was coming.

Overall, this offense needs play-makers in the worst way.

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T.J. Ward

dawgpound00: I really love the way TJ Ward plays, He seems to be in on every play and provides a hitting presence we have been lacking since the return.

I keep hearing that the safties are out of position in the passing game which is putting Wright and Brown in tough spots. When you are watching on TV it is hard to see if Ward or Elam is out of position.

I am curious to hear your breakdown of Wards overall play so far? Also is it more Elam that is out of position.

Adkins' Answer: Ward has been an aggressive presence and is playing at a level greater that then a rookie defensive back. Being said, the rookie must continue to develop and improve his reactionary and recognition skills against the pass.

Ward is gaining a better appreciation of his role in the scheme, but has been a step late at times in coverage and run support. While we see the young man in on many tackles, better recognition and awareness would improve his status more as a play-maker, rather than simply another guy in the defensive backfield.

As for Elam, he is better in run support and this tendency gets his caught looking into the backfield too often, which creates a time issue, for which Elam does not have the quickness and skill-set to make-up ground in coverage.

Both safeties discussed must improve within the communication issues the team has in the defensive backfield. Some of the coverage issues we have been seeing of late are due to the improper communication, recognition and reactionary skill-set between the safeties and CB's.

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Jerome Harrison

nickjames: Can Hillis keep this up for 12 more games?  The beating he takes (and dishes out) has got to catch up eventually.  I love the physical style of Hillis but isn't Harrison the perfect compliment to that style?

Is this the writing on the wall for Harrison?  That he is gone after this year?

I really hope that your answers are that Harrison really is dinged and not that Mangini/Dabol have fallen in love with Hillis and forgotten JH.  You just need more than one guy to carry the load.  Don't understand putting JH on the back burner...

Adkins' Answer: Harrison is dinged, Davis hasn't gained the trust of the staff and Hillis is all that to the staff.

I only see Harrison remaining in Cleveland after this season if it becomes a CBA issue. While he does appear to be a solid option or compliment to the power rushing scheme the team appears to enjoy with Hillis, I believe the inability for Harrison or the staff to utilize or commit to him as the writing on the wall.

Maybe Harrison shines when he gets back on the playing field, but the odds remain against him in Cleveland, unless injury forces him into the feature role once again.


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