Q - I assume the coaching staff will remain after the season. You seem to understand what Pettine is trying to do on defense and what Shanahan is trying to do on offense.
After watching the first 6 games, what positions could you see us targeting with our first round picks in the upcoming draft? OLB seems to be the most noticeable need, and I expect that to be addressed in the first round, but unlike other years, we really don't have many positions that come off as needing to be addressed immediately. The DLine could use another impact player, but could you see us spending a first round pick on a position where we currently carry so much depth? I'm sure WR will be a popular choice for us among the media, but I'm not sure that needs to be addressed in the 1st round either. I'm actually starting to come around to the idea of drafting another potentially elite tight end if the opportunity presents itself. Cameron could leave via FA and is injury prone. Even if we extend him, do you think drafting another TE would be a waste of resources, or would he be an asset to Shanahan's system? I'm also still very interested in upgrading the QB position if were sitting pretty to land one of the top QBs.
I guess I'm really just curious as to which two positions you would address right now if the draft were held tomorrow.
LA - Many speak of the Browns depth along the defensive line, but the issue is you can have as many players as you want, if you don't have players of impact or consistency, then you have none.
I am looking for an impact defensive lineman.
I'd like to see a downhill type LB to annihilate anything in his path. I do believe the Browns OLBs will improve in the scheme.
I would have a strong interest in finding one of the new age athletic TE types, as well as quality and depth at WR.
Q - I watch players every game that most overlook, I rather sit at a live game, because I hate following where the ball like we see on T.V. One player I`ve picked out and picked on is Barkevous Mingo. You stated he`s only playing with 1 arm right now with the brace he`s wearing, but till this day, he`s never made a tackle on Defense that I can recall. He`s made some on Special Teams, but not on Defense.
You mentioned he was drafted as our pass rusher, but were using him as our T.E. coverage. I watched him play last week, he still blitzed, got near the Q.B. to hurry him, but still, WHIFF`S on every attempted tackle. O.K., I`ll overlook that because right now he has a bum shoulder, but I also watched him guard against the Raiders T.E. and the T.E. had himself a career day. Raiders T.E. is journeyman at best, and Mingo was beaten like a step daughter.
I`ll ask again, why is this #1 bust of a draft pick allowed on the field? They could play better Defense without him out there, as in only 10 players, he only get`s in the real defenders way. Please tell me, is he only playing to save Lombardi some respect? Lombardi killed our Browns roster not once, but twice just like I said he would the last time they hired his punk self. What do you think? Is the bum shoulder just a ploy until they find a real L.B.?
LA - Mingo flashed some in the Oakland game, while he is far from a finished or consistent product, he has been acceptable in some aspects. He isn't solely a cover LB right now, he does gain reps as a rushing OLB.
There were a few instances versus the Raiders when Mingo had coverage and released to the zone -- so, the issue wasn't entirely a Mingo fault.
This coaching staff is doing what any respectable staff would do, they see talent and athleticism and are attempting to coach him up and see if they can bring his best qualities forward.
And, Mike Lombardi has nothing to do with this.
Q - We know the loss of Alex Mack at centre hurt, but the suddenly woeful rushing game is baffling. Maybe this needs some in depth discussion or articles, but what has so suddenly gone wrong?
Does it mostly have to do with teams deciding that Hoyer cannot beat them with his arm, so just stop the run and most of the Offense is done for? So are we back to the days of Colt McCoy etc. and will see 8 men in the box all the time?
LA - The answer is relatively simple to be honest regarding the Browns rushing attack and what Alex Mack meant to the offense and line.
Mack was generally responsible for the calls for the offensive line. Hoyer will call protections, Mack will make his call, his recognition and technical skills as a lineman are second to none. The Browns have had issues in the protection scheme, getting into the right protection as well as the execution has been mediocre to poor on numerous plays.
The talent level from Mack to Greco is significant -- Mack is an all-pro caliber center, Greco is a guard playing center and has only taken snaps in practice sessions. While this will give the player the ability to snap and communicate, the execution/recognition, etc will take a turn to the negative side.
The same should be noted about the RG spot, which Greco vacated and was filled by McQc -- McQ was terrible, slow to react, was muscled off the spot and he missed numerous backside blocks, permitting shooting LBs to feast on the RBs.
The overall state of the line improved with McDonald at center and Grecp returning to RG, but the Browns were unable to secure the edges and missed numerous blocks, again enabling the Raiders to effectively shoot the gaps and stop the run dead.
The telling tale has become teams are loading the box with eight and nine men, run blitzing the Browns, with the mediocre execution, the defenses have been successful.
The Cleveland passing game has to become efficient in capitalizing on the opportunities a defense loading the box presents.
It only takes a couple plays to expose such a defense and the retreat will ensue.
For the Browns, the inability to make big plays has to improve or this attacking the Browns at the spot with eight and nine players will continue.
Q - In terms of progress, where do Kirksey and Desir stand? Compared to previous GMs, how has Farmer done thus far?
LA - Kirksey has progressed well and continues to get meaningful reps for the Browns. The staff is happy with his play/performance and believe he will be a player to be reckoned with as soon as 2015.
The Browns selected Desir with the thought that his rookie season would be one to gain experience, improve his physical stature -- basically a red-shirt. The staff loves his athleticism, attentiveness and desire to be improve.
Farmer really gets an incomplete for the time being as we see many players geared toward the look of the future for the Browns.
Q - Obviously post injury it appears Hoyer is reluctant to run with the ball. Is this a lack of confidence on his part, or a deliberate approach to avoid injury? Is he acting under instructions from the coaches?
Do you see him taking more yards where he can and sliding if not this week at least in the critical
bengals game to help loosen up the defense?
Finally should we expect to see more WR screens from a spread formation again if not this week, then against the Bengals?
LA - While all associated with the team will openly state that Hoyer is fine, the sentiment within the organization is that they prefer Hoyer does not run with the ball, unless it is absolutely necessary or so open that he has to go with it.
I can recall a dozen times where Hoyer could have run for positive yardage, rather than dumping the ball off.
Interestingly due to the size and skill level of their WRs, the Browns do not utilize WR screens often and it is seldom run in practice.
I would think due to size, speed and quickness, WR screen attempts from the spread could be an interesting method to spread the defense and open the opportunity for a big play.
Q - Is this getting overblown? Could this turn cancerous to the point where he is demanding to get out of here?
LA - Not a big issue.
Manziel isn't creating a stir or controversy, the young man has been quiet and supportive, letting his development speak for him.
Q - I have to believe the talent level for most of the players we have on board is above average in many areas, and somewhat thin in others areas. As far as depth of talent, what positions do you believe are our deepest other than RB?
Secondly even though talented, are most of these players able to comprehend the thought process it takes to perform the scheme being introduced on a consistent basis, or are some of the players just out of their element or comfort level?
LA - Not bad at OLB, they have what you look for at the position physically, it’s more of adapting and playing the scheme as required. Much improved at ILB, Dansby is an excellent ILB and we will see Kirksey grow and develop.
CB will continue to grow, Gilbert will only get better and Williams is a true gamer. Lack of overall talent at S could be a long-term concern, the OL needs depth, WR is proving to be better than most thought. The TE spot is solid, but looming FA of Jordan Cameron could lead the Browns to look for a TE this off-season. The QB position is wide-open and the Browns must hit on their evaluation of Manziel.
We are beginning to see some improved play on the defensive side of the ball, whether the improvement is due to the competition level or the players gaining on the scheme is open for interpretation