Frost Warning

<BR>Back with some more of his patented "Truth and Reason", Les Levine takes a look a the Browns special teams gadgetry, William Green's attitude in the wake of Sunday's game, and the possibility of a late-season run to the top. Here's Les with this week's take...<BR><BR>

For the past two weeks I have defended Butch Davis' use of Kellen Winslow, Jr., on special teams, especially on the ‘hands team', which is used to attempt to recover onside kicks. 

Unfortunately, for Winslow and the Browns, it backfired in Dallas, when Winslow was lost for the season with a broken leg.  But it was still the right decision to use him in that capacity.   In fact, when the special team was set up for that purpose, Winslow probably would have been the first one on the list, after kicker Phil Dawson.

But that won't stop me from questioning the use of punter Derrick Frost in the role of running back on fake field goals. 

With the Browns leading by four points late in Sunday's win over Washington, Davis went for the throat by attempting a fake field goal, which would have iced the game.  At that point, the Redskins were out of timeouts, and the Browns, if successful, could take a knee a couple of times to run out the clock. 

Phil Dawson said after the game that the wind was a huge factor in the decision, and he wasn't very confident that he could have made the long kick. 

Knowing that, I personally would have chosen to ‘pooch kick' the ball inside the ten yard line, forcing the Redskins to go at least 90 yards for a touchdown, without any timeouts other than the 2:00 warning, as a field goal would not have done them any good.  Or I would have just kept my offense out there and have them try to get the four yards for the first down, as the risk/reward factor was in the Browns favor. 

But I wouldn't have let Derrick Frost run the ball (I realize the play called for a pass and three potential receivers were open) for a variety of reasons.  

First of all, he could have been seriously injured---unlike Winslow he is not accustomed to getting hit with the game on the line.  With the limited offensive capabilities of this team, the special teams take on added significance, and Frost is an essential part of them.

Having little experience in these situations, Frost obviously didn't have the presence of mind to throw the ball away when he knew he couldn't run for the first down, let alone recognize the open receivers downfield.

Last year, Phil Dawson's holder was Chris Gardocki, the punter.  As long as a change was made this year, why couldn't backup QB Kelly Holcomb be the holder?  He would be a threat to fake the kick at all times, and the defense would have to prepare for that.  He would also be most trust-worthy with the ball in his hands in regards to decision-making in when to throw to a receiver or when to throw it away. 

The fake field goal snafu virtually went unnoticed, although if it worked, Davis would be hailed as a genius.  But the turnovers by Washington, sealing the game for the Browns, and the fact that Frost escaped injury, shouldn't be reasons to overlook the dangers involved.


There have been concerns that the performance of Lee Suggs in last year's final game would fall under the category of ‘one-game wonders', but that should be dispelled after the Washington game. 

There still has to be concerns about his vulnerability to injuries.  But there should be bigger concerns about the attitude of William Green, who apparently is not handling the situation very well. 

He came into training camp with a new attitude, but some problems are beginning to surface.   According to reports, Green had some temper flare-ups on the sideline after he was taken out of the game on Sunday. 

Certainly he must be bothered by the emergence of Suggs, although William has nobody to blame but himself for losing the starting position. 

But he should realize if the Browns are going to contend for a division title---and they can if they beat Pittsburgh on Sunday---he can be a vital part of it.  He is still a threat, and there are ways, even without injuries, that both backs can be effective. 

If Terry Robiskie is correct by saying Winslow made up 50% of the playbook (an absurdity, by the way), then he must compensate by finding a way to make both Suggs and Green useful. 

The book is still open on Jeff Garcia, but he is the only QB in the division with any track record. 

Kyle Boller, Ben Rothleisberger, and Carson Palmer are young and inexperienced, with plenty of future upside.  Garcia is on the way down, but it will be interesting to see which of the four will be ready for a stretch drive. 

I've said this before, but if the Browns can find a way to hang around through the first ten games of the season, the schedule gets easier at the end. 

For that to happen, Garcia has to perform better than he has so far.  By my reckoning, he has had only two productive quarters out of sixteen in the first four games, and he should thank the defense for keeping the Browns in the game. 

The defense has had more injuries than the offense, but they have found a way to be effective.  It's time for the offense to do the same.


‘More Sports & Les Levine' can be seen nightly Monday through Friday from 6-7pm with replays at 11pm on Adelphia Channel 15.  ‘More Les' is aired after selected Cleveland Indians games on FSN OHIO.  Les can be reached at www.leslevine.com

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