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.


Brian Daboll

brownsrthebest04: Lane how safe is daboll in terms of job security? you would think a guy who knows offense like Holmgren would see many flaws in his offense and push to make a change...

Adkins' Answer: The QB definitely buys he and potentially Mangini time, but it will wear thin if there isn't improvement.

Being an offensive guy, Holmgren has to be chomping at the bit and I do believe this will ultimately be the undoing of Mangini's hand-picked OC.

So, I don't see Daboll in immediate danger, but it lurks.

redright: I do believe (Mangini's) loyalty to offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has been detrimental to the overall development of offensive football, during his time in Cleveland. The lack of difference-makers within the roster also plays deeply into the equation.

Might we subsitute Romeo Crennel for Mangini?

Adkins' Answer: Similar failures with different philosophy on game-day. The inability to develop talent has been a dismal disappointment.


Holmgren's failure to clean house

rutger: Holmgren said the biggest mis-take he made in Seattle was not cleaning house and bringing in his own people to run things.  Do you believe by now he's thinking the same thing?   Primarily because of the offensive staff that was kept along with Eric?

And is Mangini just plainly too stubborn, or stupid for his own good.  Here's a guy that got torn apart by the NY media, then comes to Cleveland and makes no attempt to get any here on his side.

Rutigliano who was far from a great coach HC (but was someone who had an attack mind set on offense), at least had the brains to get and then keep the press on his side.  He was also smart enough to know he was an offensive guy and hired a smart defensive guy (who also had some previous experience at running a defense in the NFL), to run thinks on that side of the ball for him.

Mangini on the other hand just seems determined to go down with Daboll (who appears more and more each week to be in WAY over his head), no matter what.  WHY?  Is that being stubborn beyond reason or just plain stupid.  Who makes the call as to who plays and when during the games?   Mangini or Daboll?

Adkins' Answer: While I have not been privy to an in-depth discussion with Holmgren regarding this aspect, I do believe he has second-guessed himself on numerous occasions throughout the process, five games into the season.

I wouldn't say Mangini is stupid, but may be stubborn, but he has been much more 'media friendly' than a season ago.

Mangini believes in his way, it's what he knows coming from the Belichick tree and time under Parcells.

This team is improved, but improvement does not necessarily mean wins and losses. This was a terrible team a season ago, the wins down the home-stretch of the season brought hopes of change, a turning of the corner, but in essence, the Browns beat some team equally as bad or did not play well on game-day.

I do believe his loyalty to offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has been detrimental to the overall development of offensive football, during his time in Cleveland. The lack of difference-makers within the roster also plays deeply into the equation.

Daboll comes up with the scheme for the weekly opposition. He meets with Mangini and discusses the plan and whatever changes occur are built into the game-plan from this point.

Daboll calls the plays, receives input from QB coach Carl Smith and Mangini, who listens to everything through his head-set.

Mangini makes the final call on the active player roster on game-day with input coming from each coordinator.


Playing not to lose

thetid: We always here about how mangini (and even Crennel) went by the philosophies they learned under Belicheck...for Manigni that being charecter guys and power football....but one thing about Belicheck never comes out in either of them....his propensity to go for it (most notably on 4th and short anywhere on the field).

I remember being at the Tampa game in Romeo's 1st year (we were 4-10 at the time), and it was 4 & 7 (give or take) with the ball on the Tampa's 27 (meaning a 44 yard field goal in windy conditions)...and in deciding whether to go for it or kick the field goal Crennel decided to....PUNT!  (i almost passed out)

Mangini has this same attitude, especially on the 4th and goald from the 1.....we have 3 1st round picks on the offensive line with a monster RB and we decide to kick a FG?  Why even invest in the offensive line if we are not going to take advantage of its strengths in situations like this?

How did the Belicheck go for broke trait never filter into his assistants?

Adkins' Answer: Some men are leaders, others are followers.

Belichick is not afraid to put youth and inexperience on the playing field and lives with his decisions.

With Belichick, he has the intangibles others such as Crennel and probably Mangini only can wish for. Belichick puts his team, his players in tough positions to gain a knowledge of how they will react and trains personnel to be ready for nearly anything.

As for Mangini not going for the TD on 4th and goal, his decision may have had something to do with the little push the offensive line gained, with the center being pushed into the backfield, along with a gimpy QB and RB.

I wouldn't have felt comfortable with the situation in their realm.

But, I would have put Cribbs in motion, play-actioned to Hillis and hit either the TE or Vickers in the end zone. The Falcons were loading inside hash, which opens the opportunity to break off the edge with either player.

It's all about the mentality and this staff is not comfortable or confident in some of the key pieces here.


Colt McCoy's confidence

wahoopcc: I keep hearing all of this discussion about McCoy's confidence, god forbid he have to face the Steelers, it will destroy his career if he plays too soon, etc. Well what about the team bringing in a QB off another team's practice squad who McCoy beat out in training camp and then starting him with McCoy sitting the bench? What does that do to the young man's confidence?

Adkins' Answer: Playing him or sitting him is not going to ruin the psyche or career of the young man. If this were to be the case, McCoy has not business wearing the uniform.

It's really not an issue at this time. Now, if we were talking about an experienced McCoy and another QB coming in and playing, while he sits, then we'd have an entirely different situation to discuss.


Can the offensive scheme change for Colt?

BrownsGuy64: We have known that Colt is not a ideal fit for the Daboll passing offense which is a vertical scheme based off of play action (sorta).  Can and will the coaching staff turn more WC to best utilize Colt's natural ability?  It seems to me that a quick read/decision wc passing scheme will not only benefit Colt but will also help slow the steelers pass rush.

Mangini has said that the offense has some WC principles in it along with NE and NY stuff.  Does the playbook have enough WCO that if the Playcaller wanted to, he could turn the offense into a WC system this week?

Gotta think Gill will have a busy week.

Adkins' Answer: It is really as simple as this.

If McCoy starts this game, the coaching staff must utilize scheme to maximize his talents, which is the short to intermediate passing game.

Ideally, the coaching staff will have the fortitude to get out of the unimpressive vertical based offensive scheme that does not utilize WR's of overall experience and game-changing quality.

The game has to be called to get the ball out of hands quickly, meaning the short passing game has to be incorporated as much as a run to gain positive yardage and keep an aggressive from simply displaying no reason to feel threatened, which has been the case throughout this season.

Holmgren, Haskell, etc must have an involvement at this juncture. This is a critical time, not only for the immediate success of the team and organization, but long-term development and direction could begin to unfold if McCoy indeed is under center come Sunday.


Thin running back corps

tochigi: Just wondering if there is any explanation for Harrison's lack of success.  Specifically I thought against the Falcon's he would have had more chances. But he did very little with what few chances he did have. Was it the O line? The speed of Falcon LB'S? Harrison's lingering health issues?

Also - if James Davis doesn't get healthy do we call up someone from practise squad? Or is Jennings still around? My guess is that Hillis will sort of be walking wounded for the rest of the season- not in full health, but gamely trying.

Adkins' Answer: Harrison isn't running with confidence, the coaching staff is not confident in him as a player which in its own is detrimental to the team. This action by the staff appears to be an ongoing issue, as players often appear to fall off the radar quickly after nearly any type of incident.

The offensive line is not playing well overall. The aggressive nature while being technically sound has been missing. A mostly straightline runner such as Hillis has has some success due to hi physiclity, the same cannot be stated about the smaller Harrison that replies on initial quickness and vision.

Davis or the lack of his involvement isn't surprising. This coaching staff simply doe not offer up opportunities unless they are backed into a corner. This aspect itself troubles me greatly about this staff, especially when this is a team looking for playmaker types.


Deion Branch

brownsrthebest04: I am going nuts seeing Branch go to the pats for a 4th rounder....the browns not adding a viable receiver is idiotic and plain dumb....with the trade deadline a week away please tell me we are talking to teams trying to get a receiver.

Anything on the burner? please say yes:)

Adkins' Answer: Nothing of true significance from what I have been told.

The Browns are one of those teams that like to sniff around but don't pull the trigger.


Shawn Lauvao

cbsmitty: Luavo made a hugh splash in pre-season.....starts....injured and now appears in no-man's land.  Is he close to being able to play?  Perhaps he can give some helpwith therunning game.

Adkins' Answer: Lauvao is healthy enough to play and I anticipate we'll see him this season play some meaningful time.

Presently, his injury occurred at the worst time for him, as he was gaining meaningful reps with the starting unit and would have gained a significant opportunity.

His ankle injury coupled with the return of veteran Floyd Womack from knee surgery simply eliminated his edge from the equation.

As the season progresses and the team accepts the season is basically done from a playoff candidate standpoint, some of the youth should gain game experience.


Josh Cribbs

glabonne: If neither SW or JD are available as viable options at QB why would they go get Ratliff who would require releasing someone to make room when they could look to Cribbs to be the QB that keeps McCoy on the sidelines?  There is no way he couldnt be more effective than a rookie or a released 3rd string QB.

So the question is, why won't the coaches see what he can do while the other QBs heal?

Adkins' Answer: Josh Cribbs knows some of the offense, has not been mentally school or challenged to play the true QB position at this level, but due to his athleticism, he could make some plays, but I believe he would fail if thrust into the spot right now.

I'm fairly certain he'll get some reps in practice and game-day, but I cannot see this organization putting the onus on him.


Three serious questions

OPENUP: (1)   What is the Front Office going to gain by permitting this offensive game planning and game day play calling to continue-- Indisputable proof?  For the purpose of satisfying whom?  The fans are already begging for the coaches to field a better product- not simply better talent although that would be nice but a competent game plan.

(2)  Who do they hope to win over or impress- and what does that gain them?  Is it fear of displeasing their peers or an unwritten code of ethics that says, "a dismal season is ok as long as inferior coaching is rewarded with excessive opportunity?  In a league where players are expected to perform at a an astounding level why aren't coaches held to the same standards?

(3) Is the NFL so independent of criticism that teams like Cleveland can field a reasonably average team and disregard the quality of coaching because the cash continues to roll in?

This isn't submitted as another 'fire somebody' question. I for one honestly wonder about what seems to be a very rich good 'ol boy network.

I'm looking for a legitimate understanding of how management weighs the pertinent factors and then proceeds.

I read the forums and posts here by some relatively knowledgeable football fans.  Most of all I read those of the OBR writers which deserve serious credit.  Fan's complaints don't seem to be because of lack of wins, hardly anyone expected a lot this year but PRODUCT counts.    Product begins with those who employ coaches and choose players.  Fans and writers alike can see the coaching for ourselves.

Coaches and front offices who presume to tell us that "what we're seeing, isn't really what we're seeing"  only infuriate fans.  Less than stellar talent isn't desireable but it's much more paletable than consistently ineffective coaching.  The end PRODUCT begins with reasonably high quality coaching.  Why are we being treated to OJT coaching?

As the front office continues to permit this offensive Offense should we imagine that they see the game with the end product in mind or is job security and image the overriding concern?

Does the product actually matter or is the good ol boy network of coaches and owners and front office types so entrenched that the end product even when poorly conceived and implemented isn't the overriding factor?

Is personal image and money the overriding factor that leads people to be so presumptuous that they'll believe what ever we're told to believe?

I for one have stated this before, " Never should an armchair quarterback be able to anticipate and call the offensive plays. "

Adkins' Answer: 1. Nothing is gained other than enabling the coaches which are on staff to do their respective jobs -- and provided sufficient rope to either become successful or fail.

2. I solely believe Holmgren is giving the HC and his staff the opportunity to continue along with the plan that won games down the home-stretch of the season. At present, the team has been competitive, which the team president stated he expected prior to the season. I do question the path the team, the coaching staff has chosen to get to the point we are.

3. Yes, this is an issue that doesn't only reside in Cleveland, though some other poor caliber of play teams have displayed improvement. Right now, the Browns are not an embarrassment on the playing field, but there is so much to be desired that any improvement appears to be taken with a grain of salt, as we await the wheels to completely come off the wagon at any time.

I do not see Mangini and his staff being retained if the product does not display quality improvement and true promise for future growth and development.

The perception of the Cleveland Browns is poor and rightfully so. Mike Holmgren is a very competitive man and I am certain the losing and lack of quality play, coaching, play-calling on the offensive side of the ball is running its course with him.

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