Tales from the Inbox

Sitting at 3-3 with (statistically) one of the best defenses in the league, the impressive 49ers are up next. With OBR inbox filling up with excellent questions, we're providing answers. If you want answers and not simple gibberish, you've come to the right place.

Question: Week after week quarterback Colt McCoy appears to get worse and worse. Wouldn't you think McCoy would be getting better by now? Also, we keep hearing and seeing this quarterback running immediately from the pocket when he has time to find his receivers is this a product of the plan or is McCoy just afraid to stay in the pocket?

Lane Adkins: I don't see the young QB getting worse. There are things he could do better and this is the reasoning behind the organization stating he has this season to see where he is.

What I do like about the situation is the head coach does communicate often with McCoy, as does quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple. McCoy is told what the coaches see and they ask McCoy questions regarding his play and his decisions.

I know with certainty, there has been discussions about McCoy getting the ball out of hands quicker and looking at the entire field, rather than locking on specific receivers. It's the second level of the play that McCoy appears to be struggle the most.

McCoy has been prone to scramble early, but in the game a week ago, McCoy did scramble, but stayed longer in the pocket. Again, he failed to get the ball out too often.

Let's remember: The young man has had less than a season under center in the NFL and his surrounding talent is far from stellar at most positions.

Q: We keep seeing the Browns without a true presence at the wide receiver position and those on the roster are below average. Now, Terrell Owens is healthy and available and the Minnesota Vikings have released speedy receiver Bernard Berrian. Any chance someone within the organization has the balls to bring either player in and give this offense some experience and talent?

LA: Owens does appear to be healthy and claims he is ready to go. There is little doubt, despite his age (37), that he can still play the game at a high level.

Interestingly, Berrian never flourished following his first season in Minnesota, as he battled nagging injuries with some questioning his determination to be a factor.

As much as the Browns could use speed, quickness and proven experience at the position, I am skeptical this organization would be willing to pull the trigger on a deal for either player.

Sitting at 3-3 and dealing with a struggling offense, I would seriously entertain the notion of seeing what each player can provide, but because of Owens' past, I may not be willing to rock what has been built within the Browns locker room.

At the end of the day it's about winning and I believe Berrian and Owens would be an upgrade to the position in Cleveland.

Q: I watch many games a week and have been a fan of the game for well over 30 years. This Browns team and its quarterback has to be one of the most ill-prepared players as a starter as I have watched in years. The play of McCoy and even worse the Seattle quarterback a week ago was terrible. How at the professional level, how can a starting caliber quarterback not see the blitz, not see a cornerback or safety walking up to the line of scrimmage and not get the ball out to a receiver in time? While it appears most people think McCoy is going to be the guy, I can't see it, what am I missing?

LA: I'm glad to hear you have been able to persevere all those seasons as a Browns fan. I am right there with you, I have followed this organization a long time and it hasn't been pretty.

As for your McCoy thoughts, I also do not understand how this team had such an issue a week ago picking up the blitz off the edge, or at the least having a hot read for McCoy.

Within the hot read situation I do believe some issue resides.

Sight recognition comes when players gain a familiarity with one another and are on the same page when looking at the defense and its intent. Because of the lack of experience, playing time together, etc., I don't see this offense and those players in position to make plays actually on the same wave-length.

If McCoy is the guy, this will come with experience.

McCoy's long-term future is quite the unknown. He has this season to show whether he has the tools this organization seeks in a quarterback. Presently, he hasn't been at his best and the games will get tougher as the season plays out.

Q: The Browns defense has been excellent this season, after not playing very well a season ago. What's behind the changes with this defense to make it as good as it is and why hasn't the organization signed linebacker D'QWell Jackson to an extension?

LA: The 2011 Browns' zone-based defensive scheme is based on preparation, improved athleticism and a philosophy of keeping everything in front of the defense with an aggression normally not viewed.

The athleticism along the defensive is greatly improved. Veteran Jayme Mitchell is quick off the edge and has improved his edge containment at his defensive end position. Ahytba Rubin is showing to be more than a run-stopping defensive tackle.

Adding rookies Jabaal Sheard (DE) and Phil Taylor (DT) to the mix has brought plenty of youth, hunger and athleticism. The relative inexperience along the line has improved and surprised. This Browns defense has done well getting after opposing quarterbacks.

It starts in the trenches, but the Browns defensive backs have been solid and the linebackers have done well keeping the play in front of them overall.

A season ago the Browns defense was an up-and-down unit. This defense wasn't consistent, unless we are discussing how they consistently couldn't get off the field. The rush defense struggled to stop the run and the pass defense struggled as well. At times, the pass defense kept the team in games, but overall, the defense was not good.

Middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson has come back from two seasons lost because of injury to play the position he may best be suited. Healthy and stronger than ever, Jackson has been the leader, not in name, but he calls the defense on the field and is a vocal leader.

I know defensive coordinator Dick Jauron was excited about the play of Jackson in the preseason and likes how prepared Jackson is.

As an organization, I find it somewhat hard to believe they haven't attempted to get a deal done with Jackson, who just happens to want to remain a member of the Cleveland Browns.

If the Browns plan was to see if Jackson could stay healthy and handle the role, through training camp, preseason and six games into the season, Jackson has played at an extremely high level.

The clock is ticking and if this organization doesn't make a play to secure his services into the future, he becomes fair game.

Teams are always looking for linebackers like Jackson that play at a high level.

Q: Ever since the issues surrounding running back Peyton Hillis came to light within the media's rash method of creating controversy, I have watched the play of Montario Hardesty extensively. I watched him play while at Tennessee in college and now in Cleveland, and he does not appear to be the same player. I know he has had multiple knee surgeries, but the Browns lugged him out there for 33 carries and numerous others as a blocker and pass option. Is he healthy enough or healthy in general? He appears to lack the burst I saw of him in college and he looks to not gain yardage after contact often?

LA: Hardesty is coming back from injury and surgery that many so-called experts claim takes 18-months to return to normal. Hardesty injured the knee during the Browns final preseason game a year ago, placing him approximately 14-months or so from the injury.

He appears healthy, but I also see a player that does not have the same burst or power. Hardesty has started to look to hit the hole with more authority; at least it appeared that was the case as the game against Seattle progressed.

As Hardesty plays and remains healthy his immediate football instincts should also improve. The toughest thing to overcome is not the injury itself, but the confidence to get back out there and play with reckless abandon and have the game again slow down.

I see Hardesty as a fit in this offensive scheme, as it has been described to be, and as long as he remains healthy I anticipate he is going to gain opportunities to play.

Q: During the pre-season I had the opportunity to see plenty of the Cincinnati Bengals. Watching them for weeks, I thought the Bengals could be the worst team in the AFC, as the quarterback was terrible, the running game was slow and the wide receivers did not play a major role. How could that team turn it all around so quickly? Then we watch the Browns, which have had many of the same players in place struggle so terribly this season on the offensive side of the ball? Who would have though rookie quarterback Andy Dalton would be leading the Bengals to a 4-2 start thus far and the Browns being lucky to be at 3-3. What are we missing in Cleveland?

LA: Watching the Bengals during the preseason, they looked like a team trying to find its way with a very raw quarterback. Sure, Dalton could throw the ball, but his timing, accuracy and leadership were below average.

But, the Bengals brought him along, did not get away from the running game and attempted to put Dalton in positions where he could thrive and gain confidence.

A week into the season, the Cincinnati offense really started to play well and within themselves. It doesn't hurt that the offensive line has played reasonably well, Dalton has a couple solid wide receivers, a tight end, a running back and head coach that believes in the philosophy of running the football.

In Cleveland, Colt McCoy hadn't had solid line play in front of him, the running game has been below average, the coaching staff has not made the rushing attack a staple of the offense. There also isn't an A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson split out wide.

McCoy has been sporadic and looks less comfortable and settled than Dalton. But, the Cincinnati offense isn't as elaborate as that in Cleveland, which is beneficial to a young quarterback such as Dalton.

Q: When starting right tackle Tony Pashos returned from injury, the right-side of the offensive line play improved, but still had issues with the inside rush. When starting guard Shawn Lauvao was injured last week, the Browns offensive line looked to have played better when the backup was brought in. Is it a coincidence that the play improved when a veteran was in play? Also, would we see the same result if they sat another rookie at left guard and let a veteran play in his place.

LA: I have been one that has pointed out Lauvao's inconsistency and technical issues at right guard. Though I believe his play was improving, he is not really a strong starting right guard at this time. When John Greco was inserted in his place following a knee injury, the position was stabilized and we did not see the constant pressure or beating of the lineman, as was the case more often than not with Lauvao.

Greco is not a player that will wow anyone in any specific portion of his game, but his skillset provides a consistent presence and he can be physical at the point of attack.

I'd seriously consider Greco to remain in the starting line up, whether Lauvao is healthy or not. This team and its offense needs to stabilize the protection for McCoy and this offensive unit to have the best chance to succeed.

At the left guard position, I believe Pinkston hasn't done a bad job, but when he gets beaten on a play, he really gets beat and the end result usually ends with McCoy running wild.

You look at a couple veterans like Oniel Cousins and Artis Hicks and you have to wonder whether either can upgrade the position. In the case of Cousins, he is a stop-gap measure type player. Hicks is the old veteran on the down-side of his career. Again, not the best type of player to depend on as a roster and team look to develop.

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