Death Chat 2007: Zone Blocking Edition

The gang takes on draft questions and, once again, the offensive line is a topic of discussion. John Taylor, Rich Passan, Fred Greetham, and a webdork bang around the key questions of the day...

Rich: OK, where's greetham?
Barry: Mr. Greetham is still speeding back from Cleveland Browns Stadium
talk at the same etime?
Barry: He'll join us midway through.
Rich: You mean it's just John and moi?
John: Great, the only sane one among us is missing
Rich: Should have put on the armor for this one.
Barry: What? I don't count?
John: No, you don't.
Rich: oops
Barry: LOL...
John: You are here for our amusement. Now dance like a monkey.
Barry: I have six lightning round questions to make up for last week's shortfall.
John: 'Bout time...
Rich: Bring 'em on
Barry: Let's rock this place

1. Your name is Romeo Crennel, and you see that the Browns first five games are against the Steelers, Bengals, Ravens, and Patriots. Only the Raiders looks like a good matchup, and that one's on the road (again). Question: Do you start planning some relaxing vacations, perhaps a cruise, starting around the bye week on 10/21?
Rich: I'm on the phone with my travel agent as we speak.
John: Could be a built-in excuse for keeping him around as well. Ya know, tough schedule and all.
Rich: No excuse for bad coaching.
John: Agreed
Rich: And what's so tough about playing the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals at home?
Rich: If it were on the road, then I'd say yes.
John: Ya know we're talking about the Browns, right Rich?
Rich: If they lose all three, then 4-12 might be optimistic.
Barry: Yeah, every year... "tough schedule"... don't you think Browns fans are sick of hearing that?
Barry: I'm not sure that excuse works anymore.
Rich: It's one of the easiest schedules in the NFL this year.
John: I don't think RAC would be safe by any stretch of the imagination. Just offering what could possibly be a feeble excuse for the org to keep him through the year.
Rich: If he lasts the season, they'll be a significant uprising in Browns Nation.
John: Get off my ass, both of y'all. I've been saying RAC's on thin ice longer than anybody. So there. Bite me.
Rich: Thicken that skin, John.
Barry: I'm not attacking you, I just don't think that excuse will work again this year.
John: Who's bitter now, Barry? Huh?
Barry: This "Milk Stout" I'm drinking has a bitter afterburn.
Fight, fight.
John: Whatever, geezer.
Rich: Bring it on,.
John: :-)

Curve ball time.
Barry: 2. Denver has had great success running with the zone blocking technique. The Browns have had limited success with any blocking technique. Why not try to emulate the Broncos success?
Rich: Good question. It's really not that hard to do.
John: They have the type of OL that could possibly do it. Why not. Nothing else has worked since the return.
Rich: Might as well try it. Got nothing to lose.
Rich: Except games, maybe.
John: Yeah, that'd be something different.
Do we have any coaches who know it? Any players?
John: Not that I'm aware of.
Barry: Who has a copy of "Zone Blocking for Dummies"?
Rich: Larry Zeirlein?
John: Didn't/don't the Falcons use zone-blocking? If so, Shaffer would be one.
Rich: Yep. Same one as the Broncos.
Rich: Bad juju?
John: TCE.
Barry: Bad juju? TCE?
Barry: I'm sorry, I don't believe in luck, juju, or the Easter Bunny.
Rich: Perhaps better running backs might help.
John: Didn't the old broncos OL coach--can't remember his name at the moment--take on some kind of role with the Falcons?
Rich: Perhaps
Rich: Alex Gibbs
John: That's him.
Barry: I thought he was there one year.
Rich: If I'm not mistaken, the Falcons let him go.
John: I need to be drunk. I remember better.
Rich: He's a free agent.
Rich: Is there any free-agent $$$ left?
John: Yes there is. Probably $16-$17 mil.
If you'll excuse me a minute, I'll explain the problem with the Cleveland Browns line.
Barry: Every year, we add talent, supposedly, but things never really improve. Why is that?
Barry: The Browns continue to have problems on the offensive line because they replace at least 40% of the line.
Barry: Every. Stinking. Year.
Barry: Even this year. At least two new members of the starting OL. At least.
John: So just keep crap for the sake of continuity?
Rich: That's kinda what they're going to do this year.
Rich: Steinbach and McKinney if he's healthy will be the guards.
John: Look back at the changes. On paper, they were upgrades.
Barry: Maybe it's an indictment of something else: bad personnel evaluation, use of free agency, coaching changes... I don't know, but they rarely return more than half the same line. THAT, my friends, is a huge problem.
Rich: And will continue to be until they get some continuity.
Barry: Exactly! We talk about changing blocking schemes... how about having the same line together more than five or six games at a go?
John: Injuries/mental disorders haven't helped.
Barry: Very true.
Rich: Yep. The dreaded daily double.
Rich: I think you'll a lot more zone-type blocking this year with Chudzinski's emphasis on the running game.
Barry: When haven't we had an emphasis on the "power running game"? I've been hearing the same crap since 2001.

3. Phil Savage has traded down with the Atlanta Falcons to the eighth spot in the draft, and there is joy in Brownstown as additional draft picks are ours. But you still have a pick at #8, and Russell, Quinn, Peterson, Thomas, and Johnson are all gone. Gaines Adams and Jamaal Anderson are also gone, so don't even think about taking them. What do you do, hotshot? What do you do?
Rich: I don't trade down to the 8th spot if I know that's gonna happen.
Barry: Too late now
John: Okoye or Levi Brown
Rich: Brown
John: Leaning toward Okoye
Rich: Okoye doesn't fit in a 3-4 scheme.
John: BS. he'd be just fine as a DE
Barry: He's young. We'll mold him.
Rich: Too short to be a DE in a 3-4.
Barry: No one believes in Alan Branch anymore? I'd be tempted to take him.
Rich: Not big on Branch. Take the sure thing at 8 and pick Brown. Solves an OLT problem.
John: I'd hardly say that 6'2" is too short to be a 3-4 DE.
Rich: Too short
John: To each his own.
Barry: Have him hang upside down like Rosie O'Donnell until he stretches out an inch or two
John: I think they hung Rosie by her sides.
Rich: OK. But I wanna be present to see that.
Barry: Alright... One vote for Brown, one for Okoye, one for Branch.

Barry: 4. Assuming the Browns quarterback issues aren't resolved early in the first round, two other quarterbacks near the top of the list are Kevin Kolb and Troy Smith. Kolb took every snap from the shotgun, and Smith is a shortish quarterback who looked very mortal against Florida. Would you want to pick either of these players on Day one? In Round Four?
John: (shaking head)
Rich: No. And no.
Barry: Giving up no a guy with a lot of potential? And the Heisman winner? Just like that?
Rich: Uh huh.
John: Tired of crap at the position, or trying to turn chicken s*** into chicken salad. The if-comes are starting to wear on me.
Barry: Makes for a quicker Death Chat.
Rich: Clean that one up, Barry.
John: "crap" is not a bad word, Rich.
Barry: He doesn't like chicken
John: Sorry, Dad.
Rich: Of all the other quarterbacks, I like Trent Edwards the best.
Barry: Yeah, I left him out for a reason. Drew Stanton is supposedly rising fast and I don't get it. His Senior year was real disappointing.

Barry: 5. Many Cleveland Browns fans believe firmly in building in the trenches and chances are that most of us agree with them philosophically. Phil Savage tonight called Joe Thomas a safe pick. Assuming he is, what's your rationale for not picking Joe Thomas if he's available.
Rich: The Browns need a stud running back in the worst way. And one will be available at #3.
John: Not worthy of the third overall pick. Plus, tying up 14-15% of the cap in OL this year, 17-18% next year, and over 20% beyond that is way too much for four players.
Barry: Now explain yourselves to the Browns fans, Thomas haters.
Barry: Wouldn't it be a way of saying that we dramatically overpaid for Shaffer, John?
John: HE'S NOT WORTH IT. Simple as that. Them and the likes of Terry Pluto need to get off their OL high horse.
Rich: I'm not a hater. I just think they can pick up a good offensive tackle in round three. Doug Free of Northern Illinois should be there at the top of the round.
John: FA is completely different, Barry.
John: Nope. if we drafted at 15, I'd like him. Not at #3.
Rich: agreed
Barry: We've beat up on Thomas before. It's just something that lot of folks believe in, since we can finally get someone that at least some draftniks are calling a top LT.
John: I like Levi more anyway.
Barry: Then let's trade down to 8 and snag him.
Rich: We're not beating up on him. He's a terrific football player. Just worth the #3 pick.
John: Or get a QB or AP.
Rich: not worth the #3 pick

Barry: Welcome back Fred.
I'm here. just back from Phil Savage talk
Rich: Phil Savage talks??
John: Hello Fred.
Barry: Heading to the lightning round here in just a second. We've been going slow because Taylor has been causing trouble again.
It's his turn this week.
John: *&%$#@!*
Barry: LOL
Fred: Phil said tonight that Thomas might not be the sexiest pick, but he might be the best pick for the Browns. Smoke or not?
John: Smoke.
Rich: Smoke
Rich: It's getting in my eyes.
John: Huh?
Rich: From a song that's older than you, John.
Rich: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
John: Was that gershwin, Rich? Or Beethoven?
Rich: Hoagy Carmichael
Fred: Bach
John: lmao
Rich: Catherine Bach?
Fred: I wish

1. Ted Ginn's stock fell today as he couldn't cut worth a darn, and scouts are worried about his future. If you get an additional second round pick to spend and have answered a need area with the other, do you chase after Ginn if he falls to Round 2?
Fred: yes
John: Yes.
Rich: No way. The Browns have too many more important areas to address.
Barry: Correct answer is "no". One point for Rich.
Fred: He could play cb and slot and punt return
John: There ya go, Fred.
Rich: And who would administer the oxygen?

2. As mentioned at the top of the chat, the Browns first five games are against the Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Patriots, Raiders, and Dolphins. Offering no prevarications, ifs, ands, buts, or wherefores, predict their record at the BYE week.
Rich: 2-4
Fred: 2-4
Barry: John?
John: They have the Raiders in there.
Fred: or 0-6, 1-5, 3-3, 4-2, 5-1 or 6-0
John: 2-4
Barry: LOL... I said NO prevarications, whatever those are.
Rich: It's unanimous!!
Barry: The correct answer is 3-3
Barry: Sorry
Rich: Damn
John: Homer
Rich: Optimist
Barry: The Steelers are sinking fast, the Bengals will all be in jail, and the Raiders still suck.
John: I thought 2-4 was being an optimist.
Rich: I thought so, too

Barry: 3. Follow-up: Predict that record again assuming that Trent Green is signed and is the starting quarterback.
Rich: 2-4
Fred: 3-3
John: 3-3
Barry: Aha! Seeing it my way, are we?
Rich: Uh uh

Barry: 4. Follow-up: Predict that record again assuming the Browns draft Adrian Peterson with the third pick.
Rich: 3-3
Barry: That one's for you Rich
John: If Frye is the starter for all six, 1-5
Fred: Phil downplayed the Green thing and said if anything it would be a draft day deal.
Barry: That's what it's been all along, despite the chatter on the radio
John: Yup yup
I believe Green will wind up in Miami.
Fred: that's what he indicated
Rich: That's where he wants to go.
Barry: Anyone else want to modify the Browns record at the break if they draft Peterson.
Rich: Sticking with 3-3.
Fred: 3-3
John: Nope, not if Frye is still the QB
Rich: He won't be.
Rich: If he is, I'm with John.
John: From your lips to God's ear
Barry: Green is QB, and Peterson is the RB. What's the record?
Fred: 3-3
Rich: 3-3
John: 3-3. At least
Barry: Fine.
Fred: how many ways are you going to ask the ?
Barry: I'm done with that. It was a clinical optimism experiment.

Barry: 5. CNN/SI's Don Banks has Marshawn Lynch falling out of the first round in his latest mock. Is this an example of the writer having: (A) Excellent prognosticative insight, (B) Draft overload boredom, (C) Mental instability?
John: b and c
Rich: D (all of the above)
Fred: guessing to be different
John: No way he makes it past the Bills, Packers AND Titans
Barry: That would be (B)? pretty much.
Fred: you get tired of saying the same thing in every mock draft
John: b and c
Barry: LOL... not assured of his sanity, eh?
Rich: If Banks is correct, it'll be because of a character issue.
John: I'm giving myself a point for that one.
Barry: That is bordering on a coup d'etat

6. I know you all have third-round and after "sleepers" in the back of your mind that you want to write about, and then point to as an example of your cleverness after the draft. Name one.
Rich: Mentioned him before. Offensive tackle Doug Free from Northern Illinois.
John: Alleman would have been one a few weeks ago, but he's flying up the charts...
Barry: Mine has always been Paul Soliai, NT
Barry: Soliai is also rising, but not enough for me to give him up yet.
Fred: undecided, right now
John: Don't have one at the moment.
Barry: Fair enough.
Rich: I also like Tanard Jackson, the cornerback from Syracuse.
Barry: Good one
John: What is this, "Kiss AZ Butt" tonight?
Rich: Howdja guess.
Barry: Alright, I have to give this one to Rich based on the correct answer on #1
John: Yup, guess it is.
Barry: You guys can all try again next week, when I'll have better questions.
Fred: I used to live in Az. any credit?
Rich: My first victory. I'd like to thank . . .
Barry: That's a wrap, folks. Thanks for hanging out again. See ya!

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