Rich's Rant: A Buffalo Special, Please

Rich orders up what he wants to see - and doesn't want to see - next Saturday night in Buffalo. The order includes a side dish of "better performance by Charlie Frye" (pictured).

OK, so the Browns are 1-1 in the exhibition season. Big whoop.

Haven't seen anything that'll lead me to believe they can improve much, if at all, on what they accomplished last season.

This is still a football team searching for an identity and unless it can come up with something radically different in the regular season, that search will continue.

This is a dull team, one that needs a spark or three. It is humdrum on offense, somewhat methodical on defense and still prone to making mistakes at inopportune times on special teams.

Granted, exhibition games are where the kinks are ironed out. But when a team keeps making the same mistakes, one has to wonder if the kinks will ever be ironed out.

After game 11 last season, for example, coach Romeo Crennel said, "If you have to go back and re-teach and make up ground that you thought you covered," he said, "you're not making progress." Game 11 for crying out loud. Of the regular season.

That means messages still weren't getting through at the three-quarters pole. It was as though the coaching staff was being ignored.

Yeah, I know . . . that was then, this is now. It'll be different this year.

Not unless there's an attitudinal change, a dramatic change in focus. This team needs a personality. Sure, it's better is some respects. But unless it translates into victories (regular-season variety), that improvement means nothing.

Saturday in Buffalo, we'll get a much better idea of what to expect in the regular season since the regulars will play about three quarters. Here are some things I don't want to see:

  • Quarterback Charlie Frye scrambling on practically every play because he (a) has trouble seeing his receivers or (b) isn't getting the protection he needs, especially from the left side of the offensive line.
  • Frye being careless with the ball. There was no reason he should have been stripped of the ball in the exhibition victory over Detroit last week. He held on to the ball too long.
  • Frye forcing passes into double and triple coverage. He'll get burned just about every time. He doesn't have a strong enough arm to drill the football among a group of defenders.
  • Frye hamstrung at the line of scrimmage. The young man must be given more freedom to change the play after looking over the defense. If he's so good, why not give him more responsibility?
  • Careless and needless penalties by special teams, most notably the punt return team. It has become almost automatic that yellow laundry flies when the Browns return a punt. What in the world does special teams coach Jerry Rosburg have to do to keep these guys clean? Tie their hands to their sides?
  • Wide receivers and tight ends run pass routes horizontally. Open it up. Allow these guys to make plays to loosen opposing defenses.
  • Kellen Winslow Jr. blocking. Yeah, I know he's a tight end. But he's a tight end who has the speed and athleticism to be a wide receiver. Maximize those talents. Blow up cover 2 defenses. Let Steve Heiden block.
  • Three wideouts on first and goal at the 5. That's what happened in the first quarter against the Lions. To compound that, after a timeout, the Browns went with an empty backfield at the same spot. That's just plain stupid. Whatever happened to smashmouth football? Element of surprise? Nonsense. Sure, the Browns scored a touchdown when Frye hit Dennis Northcutt with his best pass of the night, but that's not the point unless you believe the end always justifies the means.
  • More of William Green. He might be a good running back, but he's stagnating with the Browns. A change of scenery is what he needs. He's lost his confidence here.

I would like to see:

  • Jerome Harrison run something besides the draw from scrimmage. Let's see how well he runs off tackle or on a counter. We now know he's got nice hands and knows what to do after catching the football. His greatest assets appear to be his quick feet and change of pace. But let's take it easy for the time being on comparisons to Greg Pruitt, Eric Metcalf and Barry Sanders. It's way too early to elevate him to that status.
  • D'Qwell Jackson work on his pass defense because he's got the other part of inside linebacker down pat. He's a hitter and not afraid to stick his nose into the action. Chaun Thompson will have a tough time getting his job back and figures to be a situational pass rusher.
  • Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham cook up more overload schemes to improve the pass rush. Overloading the right side enabled Kamerion Wimbley to sack Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna in the second quarter. Confused the hell out of Lions offensive tackle Jeff Backus.
  • Linebacker Andra Davis continue to show up behind the line of scrimmage. He actually penetrated the Lions' backfield on a few occasions and made plays. It's about time.
  • A lot more hurries out of opposing quarterbacks on passing downs. Sacks are nice, but hurries are nicer. Making the quarterback throw before he wants more often than not leads to interceptions at best, incompletions at worst. That's a win-win situation.
  • More of Ross Tucker at center. For someone who didn't get a whole lot of practice for the exhibition, the newcomer acquitted himself very well against Detroit. He was active, aggressive and did not allow penetration by the middle of the Lions' defensive line.
  • Willie McGinest in a Browns uniform. If the big guy isn't injured, why isn't he playing? Just how bad is his elbow?
  • More of Sean Jones and Brodney Pool at the twin safeties. If this is the future, then why not hasten it by making it the present. Let them grow together.
  • More of rookie wide receiver Travis Wilson. Let's see what the self-proclaimed best receiver in the draft can do.

The OBR Top Stories