Post-Season Analysis: The Offense

TheInsiders take a look back at the Browns 2003 offense, and where it's heading in 2004, and offer their thoughts on the team's personnel. More exclusive analysis from BerniesInsiders.com!

Here is a post-season look at the Browns offense, courtesy of the experts at TheInsiders:

QUARTERBACK: Starter -- Tim Couch. Backups -- Kelly Holcomb, Nate Hybl.

One of the many important decisions the Browns must make this offseason is at this position. Does the team commit to Tim Couch, or does it go with Kelly Holcomb? If the team commits to Couch, does it pay Couch's $7.6 million salary or does it try to re-do the deal? If it tries to re-do the deal, does Couch go along, and if he doesn't does that make the position Holcomb's by default. Unlike a year ago when players clearly favored Holcomb coming off his 429-yard playoff game in Pittsburgh, both players have supporters on the team. The decision on the team's quarterback in 2004 will be made off the field this spring.

RUNNING BACKS: Starter -- Lee Suggs. Backups -- William Green, James Jackson, Jamel White.

Suggs is the starter by default and by virtue of his season finale, when he ran for 186 yards against the Bengals. Suggs' finale may help the Browns make another important decision -- what to do with William Green, who was suspended indefinitely and almost faced a one-year suspension for violating terms of the league's substance abuse program. Green has talent, but his season blew up in 2003 with off-field problems and personal struggles. His future in Cleveland is very much in doubt. That makes the drafting of Suggs last season all the more important -- if he proves to be for real.

TIGHT END: Starter -- Steve Heiden. Backups -- Aaron Shea, Darnell Sanders, Kirk Heinrich, Chad Mustard.

An upgrade is needed here. And changes will come only because the Browns will junk the H-Back used by former coordinator Bruce Arians. That means the team won't need more than two or three tight ends, so Heinrich and Mustard's jobs may be in trouble. The Browns have serviceable players at this position, but they do not have a big-time down-the-field threat -- and the offense has missed it. It would be surprising if the Browns did not take a long look at Kellen Winslow Jr. of the University of Miami in the draft

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters: Quincy Morgan, Andre' Davis. Backups: Dennis Northcutt, Frisman Jackson, Andre King.

One year ago this position was considered the strength of the team -- to the point that the Browns featured the group of receivers on the cover of the media guide. Now Kevin Johnson has been released and Dennis Northcutt appears committed to testing the waters in free agency. That leaves the Browns with one receiver with potential in Davis, and one inconsistent receiver in Morgan. Jackson is unproven, and King is a possession receiver who also contributes on special teams. If Northcutt goes to another team -- and he is going to the highest bidder -- the Browns may actually have to look to strengthen their receiving corps either in the draft or via free agency.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- LT Barry Stokes, LG Shaun O'Hara, C Jeff Faine, RG Paul Zukauskas, RT Ryan Tucker. Backups -- C/G Melvin Fowler, T Chad Beasley, G Craig Osika, T Joaquin Gonzalez, G/T Enoch DeMar. Returning from injury: Ross Verba.

While many offensive positions need attention, this group needs the most. The Browns seem committed to building an offensive line this offseason, and that will start with left tackle. Somehow, some way, the Browns will acquire a left tackle in the offseason -- and Iowa's Robert Gallery could be the target in the draft. The Browns also will look to beef up the interior of the line with stronger players who can handle the power-running game that new coordinator Terry Robiskie seems committed to running. The Browns view O'Hara -- an unrestricted free agent -- as a valuable backup at several positions, so he may go elsewhere to see if he can start. A key will be the health of Verba, who is coming back from a ruptured biceps tendon. If he's healthy and the Browns acquire a left tackle, Verba could move inside to guard. The problem is he has a guard's body but a tackle's mindset.


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