From the forums of The Orange and Brown Report, my PM (private message inbox) has been filling up with questions regarding the team and specific players.
Here are Quick Hits from those the PM messages:
LA: Tim Carter has been a classic underachiever for the New York Giants since coming out of
Travis Wilson had a difficult rookie campaign for the Browns. Some of this comes with the territory of being a rookie under a head coach who clearly prefers veteran players.
Josh Cribbs will see some reps at receiver and will compete for the fourth or fifth receiver spot, but his primary role is in the return game, and the team is going to have him working on his punt return skills through camp.
Q: Why does Crennel play games with the players and fans? We all know he knows who his QB will be, just like drafting Thomas and not starting him, that is crazy, what gives?
LA: I do not see how Crennel handles his team as playing games. He is certainly a coach that prefers veteran players - many successful coaches do because of the value of experience. A younger player has a propensity for error which does not sit well with veteran coaches.
Crennel still provides younger players with the opportunity to impress and earn a spot, and we will see this with left tackle Joe Thomas. Crennel has openly stated a player has to earn the job... with Thomas, the head coach does not want to create resentment or separation within the locker room by simply handling the job over to the top draft selection of the organization.
As for the starting quarterback job, I certainly believe Crennel has an idea as to who the starter could be, but the competition has to play out. Competition usually brings out the best in a player and with the state of the quarterbacks on the roster, anyone could rise up and grab the opportunity. I expect we will see some resolution about three weeks or so into training camp.
Q: I have been following the Browns for a long time, about 30 years, what makes the 2007 season edition any different? Losing is losing and this team has become proficient at that.
LA: Right now, as in many years leading up to training camp, there is a reason for optimism and a belief the team has turned the corner. In the case of this year's edition of the team, one should like the direction of the roster. While not a completed project, peronnel upgrades are ongoing and should continue.
I like the state of the defense, though I am concerned about overall quality and depth along the defensive line. The linebackers are solid and the secondary, if healthy, could be very good.
Offensively, I believe the QB spot will continue to be an issue this season, as I do not believe Derek Anderson or Charlie Frye are the answer and Brady Quinn needs time to develop. A healthy Jamal Lewis at running back could make some serious noise and look more like the 2004 player than the 2006 player who played on a bum ankle. The offensive line should be the strength of the offense, especially in the early going of the season.
This team is going to be better, they should be competitive, but I believe they need another year or so to become a legitimate contender in the division.
LA: I see Crennel being replaced at some point - whether it happens during the 2007 season is another question. I believe with the draft selections on the offensive side of the ball and free agent players brought in, he will be given some time to turn it around. If this team is struggling and not displaying improvement, the bye-week could be it for him. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is a strong candidate, who happens to be highly respected within the organization. He could be the man to taken over, if a move were to occur during the season.
If Crennel were to be let go following the season, there will be some names available, such as Bill Cowher.
Personally, I do not see a Cowher/Cleveland marriage in the making because of the rumored personnel authority he seeks, unless Phil Savage steps down. Now, I would welcome back Marty Schottenheimer - one thing Marty does well is build a team. How fitting would it be for Marty to get over the hump, back where he started?
However, all the coaching change talk is a bit premature at this time.
Q: Everything being equal and knowing what you do right now, how do you see the following playing out;
LA: 2007 QB starter: Derek Anderson
2008 QB starter: Brady Quinn
2007 RB starter: Jamal Lewis
2008 RB starter: Jerome Harrison
I really believe Gary Baxter is going to return to the field following patella tendon surgery on both knees. His recovery has been remarkable and he has the dedication to make the unbelievable occur.
The jury is out on Bentley, I do not see him playing at all in the 2007 season. As for 2008, I honestly believe he will suit up again, but I wonder if he can perform at level close to where he was prior to his injury.
Rookie cornerback Eric Wright has looked great in off-season activities and mini camp. When the pads go on, we will get a better idea about him, but I have viewed absolutely nothing to this point to make me believe he will anything other than a starting corner in this league. This could happen as soon as the 2007 season.
I do not believe in looking through the rose-colored glasses to make a point, so I will be honest as I possibly can be in regards to Brady Quinn:
Throwing Quinn in the fire or expecting him to be an immediate impact player is asking too much, too soon. He looked much better at the end of the mini-camp, than he did on the first day of the off-season training activities. He is seeing the field better, his decisions are becoming quicker, though he still makes some questionable throws. Timing has been an issue between Quinn and the receivers (actually all the QB's and receivers), but the positive here is that Quinn is not making terrible throws. His arm strength is second to
Simply, Quinn has not looked bad and he has not looked good. He has had his moments when he looked terrible on a play and had been fantastic on others. Such is the life of a rookie QB, but I am one on those folks who believes Quinn is going to be a good quarterback in this league. You can see improvement as the days go by.