Ask the Insiders forum. Our Insiders try to respond to every question, and we generally get pretty close to that objective.

For about the cost of two lattes at Starbucks per month, you can get the only Browns mag and fully interactive Browns coverage around! Grab a Total Access Pass and join us!"> Ask the Insiders forum. Our Insiders try to respond to every question, and we generally get pretty close to that objective.

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Some Highlights from Ask the Insiders

Here is some recent Q & A from our's unique <A HREF="">Ask the Insiders forum</A>. Our Insiders try to respond to every question, and we generally get pretty close to that objective. <P>For about the cost of two lattes at Starbucks per month, you can get the only Browns mag and fully interactive Browns coverage around! Grab a <A HREF="">Total Access Pass</A> and join us!

I was wondering if the insiders had any thoughts on Thompson playing the strong side since Miller is now out of the picture. I would not be to comfy with Taylor there since he is basiclly a rookie since he didnt get on the field last year. I know Bentley is expected to start on the weak side and Davis in the middle and adding Thompson would be the most inexperienced lb's in the nfl. So do you guys think Thompson could play strong side and if not who will?

Mike McLain: From everything we've been told, Thompson will be used exclusively on the weak side. He was asked about his preferences on draft weekend and said he likes the weak side. Barry Gardner and Ben Taylor are being looked at on the strong side. Gardner has the edge there.

David Carducci: Thompson is a better fit for the weakside at this point in his career. It's an easier adjustment. Davis had seen Bentley as the next weakside linebacker, having him focus only on that position during his rookie season. Bentley does have the head to make the move to strongside, but the Browns are worried about his inability to stay on the field. Injuries are a big question for him.

SouixDawg: Info on Idonije? I'd love to know if this guy has a real chance?

Mike McLain: I had a chance to talk to Idonije (e-doan-i-jay) during the minicamp. He's well-spoken and comes off as an intelligent man.

Idonije certainly looks the part at 6-7 and 299 pounds. He towered over most of the players in the locker room, and there doesn't appear to be much fat on his body. It's impossible to predict how he'll do in training camp. All I can say is he showed enough for the Manitoba Bisons to be invited to play in the East-West Shrine Bowl. Other than that, we'll have to wait and see.

DBoots: Insiders, I saw in the chat that the Browns would consider releasing Griffith because of his salary. Would they consider bringing in a veteran like Lee Flowers then for the minimum?

Mike McLain: I'm not sure how much interest Butch would have in Lee Flowers. The guy is a big hitter, but he's terrible in coverage.

Butch has said more than once during the offseason that he expects bigger things from Griffith this season. Griffith, however, didn't help his cause by being a no-show for the start of quarterback school this week. It wouldn't shock me if Griffith is let go, but my feeling is that he will be back simply because there is little quality depth at safety.

Ramllov: Did a funny thing happen to the offensive line between 2002 and 2003? The start of the 2002 season, major components of the offensive line were thought to be Tre Johnson and some others. Those guys did not make the gate. The Browns did seem to have a unity of an offensive line during the middle and late in the season. Going into the 2003 season, the Browns drafted a center with a number one choice.

So, the Browns have an average offensive line to start with, with an upside. The comparison to the start of last year was a weak offensive line and pray for development. I really like the idea that the Browns offensive line could become a good offensive line. Well, maybe it is too early to say the Browns offensive line could turn out to be a good offensive line in 2003.

Could Barry Stokes be a surprise for the offensive line. He came to Cleveland because he wanted to be a starter. He may start in 2003 and he could be the weak link on the offensive line.  However, if the LG is better known for his pass protection, he could be ideal. Two new starters on the offensive like are basically rookies. Fowler, O'Hara and/or Stokes could be part of the bench strength. These guys are much better players come off the bench than any set of guys in the previous four years. It appears Butch Davis is going to continue to bring in knew players and developing the offensive line.

Mike McLain: My initial reaction to how the offensive line is shaping up is positive, primarily because of the arrival of Jeff Faine, who I think was a great pick. Butch will never say it publicly, but I don't think he ever thought Dave Wohlabaugh was a quality center. Wohlabaugh didn't move the pile at all, which was evident by the offense's inability to gain valuable yardage in short-yardage situations. Faine will start from the beginning and will be an upgrade over Wohlabaugh. I might be overly optimistic, but I believe that Faine has a good chance of becoming a Pro Bowl player.

My hunch is that Qasim Mitchell and Shaun O'Hara will be the guard starters. Butch is really high on Mitchell, who has apparently shed some of his body fat with a productive offseason. Barry Stokes is ideally suited as a backup because of his versatility. I honestly thought that Stokes might not be back this season, but from what I've heard lately Davis believes Stokes can be of valuable service. Overall, the line should be better.

David Carducci: Near the middle of the season, I heard several people close to Davis say that he had come to the realization that he was not getting and would not get the type of play he needed from the interior of the offensive line. Obviously, the pick of Faine was done to address the problem there.

I later heard, however, that Davis was very pleased with the play of Stokes in the final third of the season. He liked the leadership, the effort and the fact that he brought a mean streak to the line. I think Davis realizes that Stokes is not the ideal physical talent he'd like at left guard, but I also think he believes Stokes fills a role and is basically fine for now.

With the probable move of Qasim Mitchell into the lineup at RG, I think it's a good bet Stokes continues to start at left guard. Like Mike, ideally I believe Stokes fits as a utility lineman who can fill in at any position on the line, but for now, they need his experience on a young interior.

Lane Adkins: Early indications coming from those close to the team is that the Browns believe Faine will start at center, that Mitchell will step up at right guard, and Stokes at left guard, mainly due to his play over the seconf half of the season. He brings an attitude that Davis likes to the line. The Browns appear to desire O'Hara at the present time be the utility man along the line.

Brokenwing: If Thompson starts at SSLB for any of many reasons, wouldn't it make sense to have him in the same scheme that we had Jamir (just let him blitz) since Thompson has all the speed and won't know the defensive position that well? Would Campo's system allow this? I remember Lawrence Taylor taking about being a rookie and so confused he just rushed the passer on every down--no I'm not saying Thompson is LT.

Mike McLain: Chaun Thompson had just eight sacks in college, but one of the reasons was that he wasn't asked to blitz much. The plan in Dave Campo's system will be to utilize Thompson's speed fromn sideline to sideline in run defense. That's not to say that Thompson won't eventually develop into a decent player in the blitz package, but don't expect great results at the outset.

Prosecutor: Dave, in the Apr. 25th chat you made the following statement: "I believe that Couch will be given every opportunity to win the job, and he will win it. The Browns will make sure of it...I don't believe for a minute that it is true open competition. If it is open competition, and Couch loses, then the Browns could have more problems than any of us even know."

I don't understand why the Browns would have serious problems if Holcomb proved to be the better QB. He makes a small fraction of what Couch makes. If the Browns could do just as well, or better, with Holcomb at QB, that would enable them to dump Couch's salary after this year and use those millions to sign top notch free agents, which would only enhance Holcomb's effectiveness. It seems to me this would be the best case scenario, even considering that they would have to increase Holcomb's contract significantly.

Please clarify why you feel Holcomb winning the QB job in open competition would be the worst case scenario for the Browns. Thanks. And by the way, that Apr. 8th chat was a gold mine of information. Great job!

Dave Carducci: Thanks Prosecutor.

Part of my statement has to do with my belief that it's too early to give up on Tim Couch combined with the team's belief that even if Holcomb wins, he is just a stopgap until they can get the "right" quarterback for the system. From what I am hearing, they don't see Holcomb as the answer.
That would mean taking a step back in my opinion.

I believe Couch needs to win the job for several reasons. First, I don't believe the Browns can do as well or better with Holcomb instead of Couch. I still believe Couch has significantly better upside than Holcomb. From what I hear, the Browns believe that, too. I don't think they question whether Couch is the more talented quarterback or not, but they do have some questions as to his ability to truly master this system. I see Couch as a Bradshaw-type who just needs a chance to get settled in and mature in the system ... a guy who often tries too hard, and falls back on some bad habits developed in being a young quarterback on a very bad team.

I would agree that a move needs to be made if Couch continues to prove that he either can not be an effective quarterback in this system or he is not willing or capable of giving himself over to the system ... of, perhaps more importantly, if he circumvents the system.

I saw enough in Baltimore and New York, and even against Indy, in those comebacks to believe Couch has a certain something some quarterbacks don't have, and I'm just not ready to give up on him. I don't see Couch as the problem so many others believe he is.

I will agree that in this day and age, a big-money, star quarterback is not necessarily a must in developing a championship contender. The importance of the position isn't what it once was. It is in some situations a luxury to have a Favre-type.
At the same time, I know there are a lot of teams out there who would love to have a young quarterback like Tim Couch ... and he is still a young quarterback.

The big thing for me is the repercussions giving up on Couch would have on this team. There are a lot of players in the locker room who believe in Couch. I think it would be a shock to that locker room to have the team give up on him. There is already a "who is next to go?" feeling in that room. In talking to several players, I honestly believe this would be one of, if not the biggest negative if the Browns were to dump Couch.

If Holcomb wins the job, the Browns are in a position of starting over, developing another young quarterback in the very near future who may or may not work out, just like Couch. The Browns would also in a position where they have little to no payoff from another early pick. Courtney is obviously starting to look like a bust. They still haven't had the production they want from Gerard Warren. Obviously, they had little success in the later rounds in those drafts, and those are the classes that should be coming of age now and leading this team.

If Couch wins the job and finally proves he can be the leader of this offense, then you have the leader of this offense. You also have a guy who would be willing to restructure his contract, similar to the way Brady did in NE .... something he would never do now. You have a team going forward with another important piece in place.

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