Adkins: The Tough Questions

Hot topics? Coaches & QBs, of course. OBR's Lane Adkins has answers.

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.


To what extent will changes be made?

mes78: You have stated that you feel changes will be made at the end of the season.  How far do the changes go?  McDonald, Smith and Warhop?  Daboll?  Mangini?

My personal feeling is that Mangini may survive, if he is willing to let Daboll go.  I could see Haskell, McDaniels, and/or Callaghan being OC or part of the staff.

Adkins' Answer: Callahan is not going to escape NY that easily.

I can't state with certainty what changes are going to be made, as I am not the decision-maker, but can only add I have been told that we are going to see some changes, which could be significant.


Embarrassed by the Browns

stankdawg: I (again) am officially embarrassed with the Browns.  Insiders, I have been a fan 30+ years and I just can't stomach this putrid football that these Browns display!!  Living in another city and state, i constantly get harassed  (by friends) and laughed at by Steeler, Giant, Patriot,Cowboy, Jets and Eagle fans!  I use to put up a  good fight back in the day, but like the players of present state, "I must take my medicine" I give the insiders credit however, to be able to write and answer questions relating to a ruined once proud franchise!!!!

My question's-    WHY does this staff have clock management problems?  Mangini has 6 years HC exp!, yesterdays end of 1st half meltdown was not even at pop warner level.   I know u guys mentioned the def. is tired, but they r pro's WHY can't this team tackle?  WHY is St.Clair starting?

Thanks for the vent and answers

Adkins' Answer: There is no excuse for the tackling issues. One problem we see in this game is players do not play fundamentally sound football as the game was taught. There is more arm tackles and lunges with the shoulder than wrapping a player up than I can count when reviewing games.

The Browns are not the only team with this issue, but again, its inexcusable and Mangini has had the team in pads working on this from time to time.

I am as well befuddled by the series of events late in the first half, I actually started laughing when Mangini and company appeared to draw a blank as to what they wanted to do there. I know its not comical, but you don't expect to see some of the strange happenings we do when witnessing Browns football.

As for St. Clair, there are some concerns with Womack in space due to his knee, if he were healthy I do believe a move would be an easier decision for the staff.


Colt's performance vs. Bengals

cpross: Any insiders care to give some thoughts on what they saw from #12?

Adkins' Answer: Played well at times, struggled somewhat at others, especially when the Bengals defense was aggressive and dialed-up pressure.

The Browns offensive line did not play well, again it was a case of being physically beaten and slow pick-up off the edges.

The right-side needs an overhaul, the LG was pushed around and LT was a step slow for some unknown reason. C Alex Mack didn't play poorly.

This team lacks a presence on the flank and a change of pace RB, this one-dimensional team isn't overly difficult to scheme for, especially when they don't execute.


McCoy follow up

cpross: barring a serious injury - in remianing 2 games - is the Front Office confident we may have solidified the QB position with Colt McCoy?   I still have some reservations with him but based on the previous umpteen QB's which have come thru Berea in last 10 years - it seems like Colt may actually be 'The Guy' finally?

Is there any whispers that MH needs to see more from him or is he the guy we build around?

Adkins' Answer: They believe McCoy has the tools and intangibles to be that 'guy', but of course want to see him play and gain a better perspective as the rookie handles the full load.

Presently, they are very pleased with McCoy and see the next two games as a very good opportunity to see how he steps up against a good Pittsburgh defense and at times a solid Ravens unit.

While the coaches want to see him run the offense, execute the game-plan, minimize errors and make plays -- while the guy upstairs wants to see how the rookie sees the field and makes those immediate decisions which could be the difference between a big play or miss.


What's up with Joe Thomas this year?

Walldog: Is it my imagination or is he gettin' beat on a semi-regular basis this year?If "yes";what do you think the problem is.?

Adkins' Answer: He's been beaten more this season than in the three prior combined after reviewing.

I haven't heard of an injury issue and his demeanor on the playing field doesn't display an injury issue.

Presently, I am uncertain, other than teams loading up and pick-up responsibilities being missed by this line.


Mangini and Daboll

brownsrthebest04: no reason to keep them here after this performance the team is a joke...again no adjustments after the first drive and then clock management at the end of the half...they should be fired after the game no matter the outcome,

Adkins' Answer: What adjustment on the offensive side of the ball would you have attempted?

Again, the defense loaded and came off the ball aggressively, the Browns looked to hit the RB and TE, as the WR's are terrible against press/man.

There is only so much that they can actually accomplish given the lack of true pocket time/experience and lack of play-makers.

At least the play-calling wasn't nearly as predictable as in weeks past.


Wildcat and QBs

brokenwing: Lane in a previous post:

"Cribbs has battled injury issues throughout the season and teams are doing a much better job in slowing the Wildcat.

Wallace hasn't done himself any justice with his open remarks pertaining to the handling of the starting QB role."

Lane why don't we ever try and pass out of the wildcat? Is it easy for teams to defense the wildcat against the pass?

How do you see the QB situation next year if Colt looks good the next 3 games. Yes I know that is a tough question as we don't know for sure whom will be the coach/OC and if we go to the WCO.

Adkins' Answer: Looks like the main man in charge, Holmgren is tuned into this young QB and he'll be the man heading in 2011.

I am of the impression that the staff does not have the fullest confidence in showing additional looks out of the Wildcat, even in the very sporadic use of the formation.


Difficult decision

brokenwing: Lane said:

"I am also of the impression Mike Holmgren will have a difficult decision ahead, as Mangini has done well in changing the culture within the team, has built a base to build upon, but has not won yet -- and Holmgren's background of a completely different type of team could be his biggest gamble and task as the leader of this organization.

The wrong decision sets this organization back, and I am most curious to see what he does at crunch time, as it is likely this team may win one of the remaining three games, which only shows as a one win growth from a season ago.

I don't believe that is going to be enough for Holmgren."

Lane I love your response in another post as this is what I have been thinking. How do we build off what has been done? The coaching carosel never seems to work. More specifically, is there any one out there (i.e. Gruden, Mooch) that can utilize the players we have and build upon the present, without wanting to start over with new FAs, a different draft philosophy, etc.

Major question: are we close enough to winning that some minor changes (i.e. Daboll, WR coach) and a couple of play makers will push us over the top? I am assuming MH will have a free hand at this point to sell any changes he wants to Lerner be they big or small.

Adkins' Answer: Holmgren can basically do whatever he wishes, and I am of the impression he will do so.

I don't see many head coach candidates out there that play the game in the manner Mangini has tooled his roster and make-up, but this is a league which changes can be quickly made with success.

I don't see this team being far off from being a true competitor. It's amazing what a presence in the passing game can bring, as well as a solid impact type at LB and DE.

The draft philosophy isn't going to change whether the coaching staff is vaporized or not, though Mangini and Heckert worked hand-in-hand in the draft room.


New coordinator, but keep Daboll?

johntyler: if mangini is retained, any chance they bring a new coordinator and keep daboll?  basis of question is what the jets are doing with callahan and schottenheimer.

daboll does have an exceptional game plan for the run, in my opinion, but the passing game is pultry.  he just is not a complete offensive coach.  callahan appears in charge of the running game in ny.  daboll is hard working and has positive energy and run scheme talent.

he would be a great assistant - any chance we see a new coordinator and keep daboll?

Adkins' Answer: I am of the impression it would be difficult for Daboll to remain if replaced as the OC, unless we see some type of title change of a promotion type look.

Which would also be difficult as Brad Seely is the assistant HC


What do you predict at head coach?

brownwarrior: For a bajillion dollars: Who coaches the Browns in 2011?

The smoke out there seems to suggest that Mangini didn't do enough to stop Holmgren from doing the predictable, which is to sink or swim with his people and his systems (especially the WCO).

Do you think that's true... and that Gruden is the guy? What about Harbaugh? Any others?

Adkins' Answer: Not sure if Gruden really wants to return, but this is one job that would get him to seriously consider a return.

Harbaugh is going to be a hot candidate and his style at Stanford is appealing to a Holmgren type system in many ways.

I'm really at the point of just connecting some dots when it comes to compatible potential coaches -- and this may be mute if Holmgren himself decides to return to the field.


Fire Mangini

Colt212: Why hasnt mangini been fired yet. He should be escorted out of the facility like he got his hand picked GM kicked out. Cant make in game adjustments and lacks confidence in his players and clock management at the end of halfs is horrible. Lost to the 2 worst teams in the NFL and should have lost to carolina lucky win off miss field goal and dropped pick 6 in miami. He has shackles on colt mccoy and wont let him call his own plays and run a offense that isnt so predictable. They cant stop the run and he cant handle any egos look at the situation with Seneca Wallace. A Highschool coach could make better decisions. Also he drafted these wide recievers and can't win with them. there was a reason why he was fired by the jets doesnt it add up. Holmgrem can't like the offense and their philosophies are so different. Let Mccoy through the ball and you win !

Adkins' Answer: Yes, this was another frustrating game to view. Glad to know I have hours ahead of me in going through the latest debacle.

Many ramifications come into play when firing the head coach and with all the bad we have witnessed with this team, there has been improvement, but not at the rate to get many excited about.

After missing on improving a core issue (WR position), the main man upstairs hasn't placed the blame solely in the head coach due to this organizational failure which is nearly catastrophic to an offense as of the Browns present caliber.

McCoy hasn't been hamstrung by the staff, if anything I am of the impression the staff opened up the book more for the rookie QB.

Now, the inability to stop the run is an entire different story.

There will be changes, the extent while unknown are becoming more obvious with each passing week.


Mangini's contract

TpostDawg: Just wondering how Mangini's contract reads, how many years and what were the amounts. With the

labor agreement ready to expire what effect could this have on his status ? I know that Lerner has paid

the last coaches but is this really the time to add another dead horse to the payroll ???Guess what I'm

really what to know is do you think that the fluid situation of the collective bargaining agreement will

have much of an effect on  Mangini's  status  ????

Adkins' Answer: Mangini has another two years on his deal and I do not believe his contract plays into the scope at all, unless the owners and league are aligning themselves for a true lockout and no play in 2011.

With Holmgren now at the controls and being the type that will relay his exact thoughts to the team owner, I don't see Lerner standing in the way of eating another head coach contract and that of his staff.

Not good business in any means, but the NFL is as much a business as football is a sport.

Teams have to win.


Potential head coach

brownsrthebest04: Lane what are you hearing about Holmgren coming back down to coach? in his previous press conferences you could just tell he wanted it again, after watching a full season he has seen the players and I am sure he has a bunch of changes in mind and this just makes sense....also what is the role of haskell? I remember holmgren saying he would recommend Gil to anyone to be the head coach...

Adkins' Answer: He still chomps at the bit and I wouldn't be surprised to see him on the sidelines again.

Also, Haskell is his trusted assistant, he plays into the equation regardless of what Holmgren ultimately does.


Jon Gruden

TripleS12: I keep seeing rumblings on both sides of this.

LeCharles Bentley insists that it's not happening, and I keep hearing over and over that if Mangini gets the boot, that its going to be Holmgren returning to the sidelines

on the other hand, theres been Gruden's own son saying Cleveland could be a landing spot, and the way Gruden was pining over the city of Cleveland during the MNF telecast last season against Baltimore even going as far as referring to himself as "We"  when referring to Clevelanders.

My question is, what chance do you guys give of Gruden getting the gig if Mangini is let go?

Adkins' Answer: A candidate if Mangini is fired?  Yes.

The man at the top of the heap? I'm not getting that initial impression due mainly to the belief in league circles that Holmgren still has the itch to be on the sidelines. Until that present issue is determined, all bets are off.

Now, if Holmgren does remove Mangini and decides against coaching, Gruden is a legitimate candidate, if he truly wants to coach again.


Jim Harbaugh

brownsrthebest04: Lane if Mangini were to be fired any chance Holmgren would be interested in Jim Harbaugh? Not sure if there is any link between them but he is a good coach who knows a thing about qb's and plus it would be a nice little rivalry with his brother...

Adkins' Answer: Harbaugh has done a fantastic job at Stanford and will be a head coach at this level, soon if he so desires.

Harbaugh is a leader, a communicator and has the 'it' factor with players and the intangibles that are necessary to to succeed, just not exist at this level.

His time is coming, I just don't know if this is the right time and place.


Different view of coach, front office

jeffman: Guys, with all the talk of Mangini being fired, I'm concerned that it may make things worse. Right now I'm indifferent on Mangini staying or going. I've been in his corner since he was hired. There has been definite improvement overall but there also have been too many games with questionable coaching decisions and the inability or unwillingness to adjust during the game. That being said, we keep hearing that Holmgren wants to coach again. We finally have a legitimate and solid FO with Homgren & Heckert. I would hate to see that disrupted by Holmgren going back to the sidelines and I seem to remember that Holmgrem as coach/GM of Seattle didn't go so well. Wouldn't it be better to keep the FO in tact and either keep Mangini for at least one more year or find a new HC outside the organization?

Adkins' Answer: Holmgren wouldn't be the GM if he returned to the sidelines. Heckert fills that role and fulfills all the responsibilities of the role, which are very in-depth, time consuming. Holmgren would not be nearly as spread out as he was while wearing many hats in Seattle.

Being said, I am not against Mangini getting another year, but I do want and expect to see changes within his staff.

I believe his process is methodical, it does take time that the impatient cannot handle, but there is something to building the foundation and that is underway here.


Defensive issues

mtsames: Why can't our linebackers step up and fill  the right holes or move to the ball laterally?  Also why can't our D-Line hold the point of attack? Is talent an issue?

Adkins' Answer: A worn-down Coleman, a depth-type player in Schaefering and a tired Rubin are only part of the issue.

This defense is playing slow, playing tired and playing without much fire. They appear to be spent to me, mentally and physically.

The LB's are an issue, as they do not fill quickly, but the way the opposition offensive lines have manhandled the Browns front three and getting to the second level, the problem only becomes more in the spotlight.

This has been a Browns defense that does not generate pressure from the base defense and must utilize the blitz to create sporadic pressure.

In all, this defensive line is not of quality, and the LB's are of the same mold. If anything, the scheme has been effective enough to keep them in games, while some of the youth has made plays.

I don't see a communicator at LB, which is a role Fujita grasped well.


2010 NFL Draft Do-Over

gilewicz: I assume you guys have seen Don Banks '2010 nfl draft do-over' wherein he guesses who each team would take in their given spot if they knew then what they know now.  Pablum for the masses, I know.  But I read it anyway and was surprised at how he evaluated the Browns rookie talent.  First, while acknowledging Haden wasn't a bad pick, he said the Browns would take McCoy at number seven because he would never fall to us later in the draft (since the other teams would know what he can do and take hime instead of Clausen or Tebow, I assume).  Then he guessed TJ Ward would go #14 and Haden #17.

Long way to question -- Do you guys think we might have gotten three of the top 17 picks in the draft?  If so, that has to be an incredible endorsement of that side of the football business.  And we still don't know if Hardesty will be a good #2 back to go with Hillis.  Surely, there's light at the end of this long, long tunnel.

Adkins' Answer: At the first leg of the evaluation process, the Browns have done well with the 2010 draft class. Now, lets see if the progress necessary to take the next step is something which this group of youth can achieve.

But, thus far those that have contributed have been very good.

I do believe this team isn't far off from being a true competitive team, while the losses have left a bad taste in the mouth of many, this team is improving.

With improvement you have to learn to beat the team you should and compete with those that may be better - this is an area this team struggles, as they have played tough against the better competition and struggle mightily against those they should beat.


This year's record

houndfromhell: I have seen this years Browns as a better team than last year, but if they again finish at 5 and 11 will the front office dial in the fact that we just played the toughest schedule in the N.F.L.? If so, then that fact right there shows improvement. Or will the last months games up to this weekend be the end all of Mangini?

This offense needs a co ordinator that understands how to game plan for more than 1 or 2 players.(Hillis and Watson). This team needs as # A1, a right tackle. The wide receivers can come later in the draft. The fact remains that both offensive and defensive lines must be the strength of the team, if you want to go deep into the playoffs. Or as the Steelers have proven, their linebackers are the strength of their defense.

Would you draft the best tackle with the first pick in the draft if you were picking? It seems it would complete the offensive line, which in turn keeps The Colt clean, which in turn helps with more time to make third downs, which in turn lets the defense catch their breath while resting on the sidelines.

We could more than likely get a D-lineman thru free agency easier than we would find a kick butt offensive tackle. What do you say, and who or what position would you use the first pick on?

Keep Manginni, get new offensive co ordinator to run the west coast, get that right tackle, then load up with the rest of the picks, and free agents with wideouts and defensive linemen and linebackers. Hopefully Heckert can whip up some more great trades like last year and when he was with the Eagles.

Adkins' Answer: I agree, this team needs an anchor along the right-side of the offensive line, whether via the draft or FA, this is a must if this offense is expected to become a more proficient unit.

The defensive line is relatively porous when relating to overall quality and depth, this again is yet another significant issue that needs addressed in the off-season.

I don't see Mangini as the true problem overall, but he needs to continue to grow, as a coach and person in this type of environment of troubling personalities, etc.

Talent will bring wins -- and yes with Eric Mangini as the head coach.

Presently, I am getting some impression that Mangini is in trouble, but Holmgren I am told has not gotten to that decision yet.


Several Questions

tall66man: May I please have a your comments to the following questions ....

1. We all question how EM brings his rookies along and really does not play them until he feels they are ready - most of the time when he lets them play they really are ready. does that mean there is a mthos to his madness or that they were ready earlier?

2. Our talent level is not great and that EM is not completely responsible for the current talent level on the roster?

3.That to be competitive this team has to be a team of over achievers almost each and everytime out to win? and that while beating some very good teams - we have actually fallen back to our talent level?

4. While this team appears to have indiviudals who have packed it in (starting with Eric Wright who did not engage n the 4th qtr touchdown run after clearing a block in the Buffalo game and getting out of the way- I cant believe he got a pass on this) to some defensive players playing their heart out and others giving a half-hearted effort. Every team feels like this during the season and that saying they are mentally and physically spent a - - - b.$. excuse?

5.Josh Cribbs - even before he suffered the dislocated toes (which is admirable the way he continues to attempt to play) he was not the same player. He seemed to be almost sulking at this role - NEVER made the first tackler miss - and seemed to be a step slower at all phases of his game. We all love and admire him and his efforts in years past but is he done now? He fumbles more and is not nearly as explosive shouldn't we try Haden?

Thanks for what you guys do and the patience at which you respond to us -  this is my first read in the morning and again at night. Thank you for the love you have and the dedication you devote to this site and our Cleveland Browns.

Adkins' Answer: 1. Mangini borders on conservative, especially with young talent that shows to be inconsistent in practice. One thing that eats at the head coach is mental errors. I do believe his process is methodical and if retained and with Heckert securing talent, he will field a winner in Cleveland.

2. Correct, the talent level leaves something to be desired. While Mangini played a role in what appears to have been a poor 2009 draft, he also worked side-by-side with the GM in the 2010 draft and early returns look favorable.

3. Correct, it takes a monumental effort and one of little miscue to be successful at this time.The element of surprise eventually catches up to teams of less talent at some point.

4. Not really. When a team is asked to play with everything they have and them some, the pressure and toll is a reality. While some players appear to have played without giving it their all, the majority have. I am a believer in a player can hit a wall mentally and physically.

5. Cribbs has been struggling with a knee issue all season and it has robbed him of some explosiveness. utilizing Haden may have been a manner to help this area and get the young CB on the field additionally, but the reality is the rookie has played over 85% of the defensive snaps this season and the number figures to grow throughout the next two weeks.



amwardwell: McNabb I'm of the impression will not be back in DC.  That being said, he feels he still has some gas in the tank and will want to go to a team with the opportunity to at least compete for a starting job.  Should that not come to fruition for him does he have any sort of relationship with Heckert that could lead to him becoming a mentor/ backup for Colt next year?

Adkins' Answer: McNabb is not in the mode of being a mentor, not yet at least.

His relationship with Heckert is solid, but unless this organization has serious reservations about McCoy, a McNabb is not the way to go.


Free Agents

brokenwing: Lane I know we are all kicking around best coach/coaches, etc., but what  change do you think would give us the best chance to attrack some quality free agent players and additional coaches? Gruden, MH, Harbaugh, Ryan at HC, etc?  Play makers and depth appears to be killing us and derailing a promising season. If we get another 3 starters from the draft in 2011, fantastic, but we need some FAs.

Adkins' Answer: Players want to be shown the money, want a chance to win and playing for a name coach such as Holmgren does add some appeal.

Gruden's rep isn't the greatest within the player ranks, some love him, others despise him.

Harbaugh has done a fantastic job at Stanford and will make a good head coach some day, just don't know if this spot, at this time is right.

I am getting absolutely nothing on Ryan as a potential head coach with this organization, which somewhat surprises me with the state of the staff in high tide.

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