Q: What's the deal with Peyton Hillis? First we hear he was sick and couldn't play. Then we hear his agent say his client was sick and couldn't play and now we hear that Hillis stated his agent advised him not to play? When does it end, or does it?
LA: It has to end and if Hillis' lousy damage control continues, it's only going to be costly to the player. Hillis was sick, he did have strep throat and nobody would have given it another thought, if not for some interesting and controversial reports coming from some in the media.
Hillis' camp has done a lousy job in putting the kabosh on the reports and in some cases has only increased the collective antennas of the media with their comments.
As of now, the issue isn't one with the organization. I believe a point was made in the game prior to the bye-week when Hillis didn't play the regular role he has since early in the 2010 season.
Q: I keep reading the forums at the Orange and Brown Report, as well as other media and can't believe the vast brutality some fans have towards certain, such as quarterback Colt McCoy. Do these fans realize the young man is in a new offense, with limited practice time and questionable talent surrounding him? What does the young man have to do to win over these cynical types? ?
LA: Colt McCoy is just that, a young QB in a new system with players that are learning the scheme, just as he is. The QB spot has been such a disaster in Cleveland for such a long period of time, it's relatively simple to pile on, as there haven't been too many things to get truly excited about with the Browns.
McCoy needs time to develop and time to see if he has the skill-set to lead a team at the professional level. The young man doesn't have the strongest of a support group surrounding him, thus making the chore of evaluating the QB more difficult.
If anything, McCoy needs to do what he knows best, make the read and throw the ball. His inexperience in this offense has hampered him somewhat, as he tends to progress through his reads too quickly, eliminating opportunities due to being impatient. This should improve as the season progresses.
As we've said before, McCoy gets the 2011 season to show whether he is a keeper or just another guy.
Q: How can the Browns actually sit here week in and week out trotting Brian Robiskie out there and think a defense will feel threatened? I go to all the games and he is the only receiver I ever see never open, it's terrible. What is the thinking behind playing him and when will the Browns add or play talent such as Carlton Mitchell, Jordan Norwood and more Greg Little to help McCoy? ?
LA: I couldn't agree more, the Robiskie experiment has been a failure and the organization is making the necessary moves heading into the game versus the Raiders in Oakland, this Sunday afternoon.
Indications are we should see more of WR Jordan Norwood and potentially Carlton Mitchell in the coming weeks. With Norwood, he's a slot type WR and this offense needs to utilize slants, such as when a Norwood can provide.
Mitchell is long, lanky, with the size and speed this offense can certainly utilize. Coming off a broken finger which required surgery, Mitchell has been practicing and is improving.
It may not be this week, but the lower depths of the WR corps are going to see the playing field, bringing some skills missing from the position to date.
Q: Yes or no. Do you believe Colt McCoy is the answer for the Browns at quarterback? ?
LA: At the present, I need to see more of the young QB. There are many variables playing into the McCoy equation that time is needed to see if he can develop into a starting quality type QB.
If the answer would have to come today, I'd be skeptical. But, we are looking at 12 more games with him in a new offense and the same equates for those surrounding him, as well as the skill positions.
I wouldn't be surprised to see McCoy excel as the season progresses, and he needs the skill position players to excel and develop to be viable options. The young man really needs to get in there and trust his stuff and the play. I believe he needs to improve his fundamentals (throwing off his back foot, not set to come through the ball when releasing and simply throw the ball when it needs thrown, rather than waiting that extra split second).
McCoy is surrounded by some very good offensive football minds, failure will not be due to him not getting first-hand knowledge and coaching in the WCO.
Q: General manager Tom Heckert gets the praise of finding numerous starters in his first two college player draft seasons while in Cleveland. Have you heard anything to make Browns fans believe this is going to continue and the team will actually be built with youth and quality? ?
LA: Its obvious Heckert wants to build this team through the draft and supplement the roster via free agency. Heckert has done a very good job selecting talent in the early portions of each draft in 2010 and 2011, though his late round picks in the 2010 draft didn't pan out well, those selected late in the 2011 draft appear to have greater upside.
If this team progresses and selects later in the draft rounds, the likelihood of impact players being drafted to contribute immediately becomes an increasingly difficult proposition.
As of now, Heckert has done well and is regarded as a very solid football player evaluator in league circles.
As witnessed over the past two years in free agency, Heckert and the Browns have been very selective, bordering on being a non-player. The reasoning is the organization finds it to be somewhat useless to tie-up millions of dollars in salary to veteran players that could be replaced by an incoming draft class.
Now, I have been told the Browns will be players in free agency, when the team is reading to truly compete for a division, conference and league championship.