Owl: Let's Play Now!

The Owl is enthused about the Browns direction, which got some help from their ex-coach...

Ernie Banks loved baseball so much while playing shortstop for the Cubs he would say, ‘Let's play two!'

The Owl is so excited about the moves Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel have made already he says, ‘Let's play now!'

Three cheers for finally addressing guard. I'd be lying if I said I watched a lot of film on Cosey Coleman. I don't know how well he plays, but the Browns are not the only team that wanted him, so I am going to assume he is better than Kelvin Garmon and Paul Zukauskas.

Joe Andruzzi is one of those success stories the Browns have been trying to write since 1999. He was never drafted, yet he has blossomed into a solid guard after three years in Green Bay and five with the Patriots, becoming a starter his first year in New England in 2000.

If nothing else, the Browns have an offensive line filled with Super Bowl experience. Ross Verba became the only rookie to start at left tackle in the Super Bowl when he played for Green Bay in 1997. The Packers lost to Denver 31-24, but he gained valuable experience in a pressure situation. He can recall those days if the Browns get into a similar situation. Ryan Tucker was on the Rams 1999 Super Bowl champion, Coleman plays for Tampa Bay when the Bucs won the Super Bowl after the 2002 season and Andruzzi has three rings.

Cheers also for aggressively signing Gary Baxter, the cornerback from the Baltimore Ravens. We'll have to see how well he plays without Ed Reed at safety, but virtually every team had Baxter rated higher than Anthony Henry on their free agent board. Henry, as expected, left the Browns to sign a jackpot contract with the Cowboys. Instead of moping, the Browns spent a load of money on Baxter. Savage drafted him in Baltimore and watched him improve as a player for four years.

Cheers again for holding off on Kelly Holcomb and making the trade for Trent Dilfer. Last week The Owl said the Browns should have given Gerard Warren one more season to prove himself. I'm still in Big Money's corner and hope he plays well in Denver. But to use the fourth round draft choice on Dilfer and give the Browns a bona fide starter for 2005 was a good use of the pick.

As for Holcomb – the Bills can have him. He is a lifetime caddy, and no more. He was a backup for Peyton Manning and he signed with the Browns in 2001, knowing his job would be to back up Tim Couch. His games when he played instead of Couch were up and down. Late last month he had a chance to sign a four-year contract and be the Browns starting quarterback. He didn't take it.

I think Holcomb has such a comfort zone as a backup he would rather do that in Buffalo, behind J.P. Losman, than have the pressure of being the starter here for a team everybody is getting excited about.

Of course, this column won't be closed without a word about Butch Davis. You're probably not going to like it.

Davis left the Browns in very good shape regarding the salary cap. The Browns had $10.5 million in cap room at the end of February, and that total increased when they released Robert Griffith.

Obviously, Davis did not set it up so Crennel and Savage could have money to play with in free agency. He thought he would be spending the money on select players. Would he have used the money on guards? Judging by his history, probably not. But this is really the first time the Browns have been in position to spend a lot of Randy Lerner's money in free agency since 2001. Most of the players they signed last year, with the exception of Jeff Garcia, were low-budget signings.

The Browns also are in good shape cap-wise next year. Davis made some terrible draft picks, but he set the Browns up to buy players for a playoff run, and deserves some credit for that.

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