CLEVELAND, Ohio - The Browns 31-15 loss to the Tennessee Titans hasn't deflated the spirit of the team or its fans.
In answering e-mail and reading message boards, the Browns fans are not down about the latest loss, but rather express thoughts about improving the team.
The offensive line has come under scrutiny for their play.
Jeremy McKinney and Roger Chanoine anchor the right-side of the Browns offensive line. Both players are young and inexperienced, but have grown as the season progresses.
It is not too far fetched to believe that they have a future in this league, maybe with this team. It is also conceivable that both players could land on new role on the team.
Chanoine has the look of a left tackle, he moves well and has a large wing-span. The left tackle position is known more as a pass protection position, less demand on run blocking, the element in Chanoine's game that is lacking at this time.
McKinney is really an unknown. Coming off major knee surgery, he plays his heart out and takes responsibility for his game. He has talent and should improve with another year of the off-season conditioning program.
Ross Verba, signed to become the Browns starting right tackle has played well at left guard. Verba has experience at the left tackle position, but a move to right tackle position in the 2002 season appears to be in the making.
At center, Dave Wohlabaugh has performed well. One of the initial free agent acquisitions prior to the Browns 1999 season is likely that he will be stationed in the center of the Browns offensive line for the 2002 season.
The direction the Browns will go at left tackle is questionable at this time. Starter Roman Oben is an average NFL left tackle, drawing a high-calibur left tackle salary in the 2002 season. His status going into the 2002 season is an unknown at this time.
The running game suffers from a lack of consistency on the offensive line. It has been said in Berea that run-blocking is an attitude, one has to question do the Browns have the aggressivness and talent on the line to run the ball?
In the upcoming weeks, the Browns are expected to give guards Brad Bedell and Paul Zukauskus some playing time.
Looking at the upcoming NFL Draft speculation will always bind University of Miami players and Butch Davis together. Davis would love to get his hands on massive left tackle Bryant McKinnie, but it won't happen as McKinnie should be one of the first four players selected in the 2002 NFL Draft. A couple other offensive linemen could be in the offering. Right tackle Joaquin Gonzalez and right guard Martin Bibla are projected at this time to be anywhere from second to fourth round draft selections.
Both Gonzalez and Bibla played for Davis at the University of Miami, Fla. and are solid linemen in the college game. Bibla can play both guard positions according to scouts and Gonzalez has right guard potential.
Back to the first round! There have been indications that the Browns would trade-up in the first round to obtain one of the top offensive tackles in the draft. McKinnie from Miami, Fla. and Mike Williams from the University of Texas lead a list of very good linemen that will be available.
Rumors are swirling that the Browns will have an interest in T.J. Duckett, the running back from Michigan State. I wouldn't count that out from happening. The Browns are sold on improving the offensive line, and believe that James Jackson could be effective once a quality line is put into place.
It is no secret that the Browns are looking to improve in a couple areas defensively. The middle linebacker and safety positions have been targeted. Tidbits that we receive lead us in the direction that the MLB spot may be dealt with in free agency, but upgrading the MLB and safety positions could be handled in the draft. The thoughts are out there that Ed Reed, the top rated safety in the country could land in Cleveland. Just so happens that Reed played for Davis at the University of Miami, Fla.
If you want offensive weapons the name Marquise Walker, wide receiver from the University of Michigan keeps coming up. Walker is polished in the passing game, but there are questions about his speed. Those questions will be answered quickly in workouts in the off-season.
Digging into the Davis system, it is defense, defense, and an offense that can keep the chains moving.
The Browns believe that the QB is in place, the RB could be on the roster, the WR's are servicable, the TE's are adequate, but the OL needs help.
Defensively, MLB and the safeties are the areas that always creep up in discussions about the defense, as well as depth.
One thing you can count on is that the Browns will address the issues and a Miami, Fla. flavor again could be in the plans.