God bless Phil Savage.
Since the day the Owl was given the privilege of writing in this space, I've been moaning about the Browns ignoring offensive linemen in the draft as though guards and tackles had the plague. Sorry for using a cliché older than the hills, but in this case, it fits.
Just to state the facts, as Jack Webb would say, the Browns have not drafted a guard or tackle in the first five rounds of the draft in any of the seven years they've been back in the league. That includes 2005, Savage's first season as general manager. But at least he made upgrading the offensive line a priority when he signed guards Cosey Coleman and Joe Andruzzi early in free agency, and he made the locker room a priority when he dumped (still unemployed) Ross Verba and signed L.J. Shelton.
Andruzzi and Coleman suffered injuries last season. They can't help the Browns in the trainers' room.
"We have a veteran line in terms of guys playing in the league, but at some point in time it�s an area that has to be addressed with younger players," Savage said. "I�d love for us to be able to draft somebody of significance for the offensive line. I think it would be a step in the right direction. That�s something that we would certainly consider. It may or may not happen."
The offense is almost there. If Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow Jr. rebound from their knee injuries there is no reason the Browns can't match points with some of the best teams in the league - unless the offensive line lets them down.
The Browns were dead last in the NFL in points scored last season. It says something about the team as a whole when the top priorities are a pass rusher and a run stopper, even though the Browns have such trouble scoring.
Don't moan about Maurice Carthon. Football is blocking and tackling first. Play-calling is far down the line.
Drafting an offensive lineman on the first day would be huge, as long as it is a guard or tackle. We don't need any more first-round centers, but it would not be a surprise if the Browns pick one up in free agency. By the end of Thursday we'll know whether the Saints franchised LeCharles Bentley. If they didn't, look for the Browns to make him an offer before sundown - make that sun-up - on the opening day of free agency.
Team officials won't talk about it, but they have to be getting sick of Jeff Faine's season ending in November. He finished each of the last three seasons on injured reserve.
As we all know, history repeats itself. Football is not exempted from that rule. Ask Lee Suggs. No one could say Faine will probably be injured again, but then again no one should be surprised if he did end up on the shelf around Dec. 1.
Mike Pucillo played his best in Faine's absence, but it wasn't very good, so the Browns need another center. It doesn't really matter much when they are 5-10 heading into the last game, but what if they need to win the last game to make the playoffs and the starting center is in injury rehab? It means they are destined to lose.
Savage has to be praised for at least realizing the line needs help from the draft. Here's hoping the Browns grab a lineman on the first day. Taking one in the third round would be fine. It wouldn't be the same as taking a guard in the first round, as the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers did when they got each of their starting guards, but it would be a step in the right direction.
|The Owl is a big freaking bird who lives in a nest overlooking the Cleveland Browns Berea practice facilities. When not chasing around small rodents, the Owl likes to fly through open windows, find an available computer, and type out weekly OBR commentaries with his beak. The Owl's hobbies include trying new vole recipes and dodging anti-aircraft fire.|