Something to Build On?

<BR>There are a lot of things being said in the locker room these days, and none of them can expect to fool the Owl. He has no patience for such things. But... while peering closely at the team from the tallest team overlooking the Berea practice fields, and from high above the noxious swamps of the Meadowlands, the Owl thinks that he might have seen something... something... could it be... a hopeful sign?

The Owl flew in last week to say he isn't sure how well Jeff Garcia fits in with the Browns offense.

Three days after that, Garcia piped up in Giants Stadium and said the Browns have to find their identity offensively. One day after that, Coach Butch Davis said the Browns do have an identity – they are a team that wants to run to set up the pass.

Sitting up here on a branch, overlooking the practice fields in Berea, it seems this understanding should have been established long before the team started preparing for the fourth game of the season. While the Browns were recruiting Garcia in March would have been a good time.

But let's face it. Garcia was desperate to get out of San Francisco and Coach Davis was desperate to get rid of Tim Couch. Garcia was Butch's life preserver. Butch was Garcia's life preserver.

"I realize we run the football well, but we need to create off of that," Garcia said Wednesday. "More than anything, we need to have a sense of urgency in the sense of not allowing things to get where they've gotten and it's the second half and we're trying to figure out what we're going to do.

"Obviously, coming into a game, we have a game plan. We know what we want to do. We know what we're capable of doing. Well, let's start doing that right from the beginning and not get ourselves in a hole like we have been getting ourselves into."

That's a fact, Jack. The Browns do move like a glacier in the first quarter.

Check out these numbers that by any measuring stick spell slow start: The Browns have had nine first quarter possessions. They have zero points and just four first downs. They have zero touchdowns and four field goals in the second quarter.

Those numbers are uglier to The Owl than a decomposing field mouse, but through all the gloom and doom, there is a ray of sunshine, and it is the way the Browns moved the ball at the start of the third quarter last week.

Legions of Doom out there – and there are many in the media – want to say the Browns had moderate success in the second half because the Giants were in the prevent defense. Maybe in the end, but they were not in the prevent when the score was 10-0 and the Browns were driving with the third quarter kickoff.

It was obvious the rollouts Garcia was using were designed plays, not the mad scrambles we saw the first two weeks. That gives the Browns something to build on. And, sure, the offense needs a lot of building, but the picture is not totally dark.

The Browns have to cut out the stupid penalties. Doing so would make for faster starts. It is not a quick strike offense and cannot afford to get bogged down in its own errors.

"We had 32 first and 10 calls (in the Giants game)," Davis said pointedly. "Of those 32 first and 10 calls, 17 of them—over 50 percent of them--made five yards or more.

 "Unfortunately, there were six penalties, two drops and two or three incompletions (on the other 15). We have to be consistent at making three, four or five (yards) whether it's a run or a pass. We have to have positive results a higher percentage of the time on first and 10, which puts you in second and four or five. It's a whole lot easier converting third downs if you're playing third and two or four than it is to be third and 12 or 14."

The Owl is happy to hear no one is using injuries to Kellen Winslow or Ryan Tucker as an excuse. It's the right thing to do, since both played in Dallas and the offense wasn't any good.

We will know by the time the Browns come home from Pittsburgh Oct. 11 whether what they showed against the Giants was real improvement or fool's gold.

Meanwhile, The Owl gets the feeling tension is building on both floors and all corners of the complex in Berea. Beating the Redskins would ease the tension greatly. We'll snoop around more and report a blood pressure check on the situation next week.


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