West Coast Offense: What Would it Mean?

A look at the impact hiring Greg Knapp would have on the team's players and off-season strategy. Greg Hensley suggests that a number of players (including Braylon Edwards, pictured) could benefit from the new offensive philosophy, but that it could dramatically influence the Browns focus in the draft...

If Greg Knapp was to become the offensive coordinator for the Browns, it would, at the very least, give the Browns some direction. The Browns do have some pieces to the WCO already in place.

The Browns running back situation becomes immediately improved with the simple change in philosophy. Jerome Harrison is made for this scheme. He has the quick burst to get outside and run the draw plays but he has the hands and speed to make him a threat receiving the ball. He would be in position to become the Browns version of Brian Westbrook.

Also with fullback Lawrence Vickers the Browns have another weapon receiving the ball. This is huge as the fullback becomes the dump down option as the receivers spread the defense and forces the defense to go deeper down the field. It is a set up for the run after catch.

If Knapp was to bring offensive line guru Alex Gibbs with him, Reuben Droughns would be back in the blocking scheme that led to his success in Denver. This could be another reason to give Knapp the opportunity to run his offense in Cleveland along with his experience.

The Browns also have tight end Kellen Winslow. Winslow would see less double teams as the defense spreads out. Winslow in effect would become the big play threat over the middle. He would have to improve on gaining the immediate separation, but he has the skill set to become an even greater success in the west coast offense.

The Browns also have receivers that should do well in this scheme. Braylon Edwards would need to show dramatic improvement in running disciplined routes. Still, he has some of the same strengths that made Terrell Owens such a threat within this scheme: the ability to separate and take the quick slants for huge gains. He must however end the free-lancing and jogging through routes when he isn't the primary. He must also learn to attack the ball instead of allowing the ball to come to him.

Joe Jurevicius is very familiar with this type of offense as he played under Jon Gruden and Mike Holmgren. His experience would be of tremendous value to Joshua Cribbs, Travis Wilson and Braylon Edwards. Joe lacks speed, but his phenomenal route running has made him a huge success in the west coast offense.

The Browns would also have 2 pieces to the OL puzzle in place with Kevin Shaffer and Hank Fraley. Kevin is straight out of the Knapp offense and the Gibbs blocking scheme. He was simply a better blocker in that system.

Hank Fraley comes out of the Eagles version of the west coast offense. Resigning the free agent center would become an even greater priority with the change in philosophy.

The Browns have tried to blend man blockers with finesse zone blockers and it hasn't worked. This move would however give this team an identity when it comes to the type of offensive line they wish to place on the field. Acquiring legendary line coach Alex Gibbs would be as good of a move as the Browns could possibly make.

The real question however with such a move, is the quarterback position. Charlie Frye is familiar with the west coast offense from his college days, but there are several issues he must overcome. He has shown neither the arm strength nor the accuracy that you like to see with this scheme. He is also known for being slow in the process of throwing the ball. Once that back foot lands, the ball must be coming out.

Derek Anderson has the arm strength and the quick release, but again there is the question of timing and accuracy. Too many passes are simply thrown behind the intended target and he has no accuracy or touch on the deep ball. He would have the upper hand with his natural abilities.

If neither is the answer, the Browns are likely to look in other directions. Jeff Garcia is arguably the best quarterback set to hit the free agent market and he is a success in the west coast offense - but the Browns have "been there done that" and aren't about to do it again.

The Browns could look to trade for Matt Schaub as he is already imbedded within the Knapp system, but this one is not likely as the Falcons asking price would be too high.

The final option is to draft a quarterback. Brady Quinn is a possibility but his skill set is more in line for the Norv Turner vertical offense than it is for the west coast offense.

Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm would be a definite possibility but the fact his mechanics go out the window with pressure is likely to leave Phil Savage weary of the Cardinal quarterback.

The obvious choice, if available, would be Jamarcus Russell of LSU. He has the tremendous size that allows him to see over the defense. He also has the great arm and a high level of accuracy as he completes almost 70% of his passes. Jamarcus and Phil are very familiar with each other and that familiarity could be the difference on draft day.


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