Stopping the run is a quick cure for an unhealthy defense. While the Cleveland Browns have addressed other pressing issues within the roster over the past two seasons, the state of the run defense remains a thorn in their side.
After yet another team rushed for well over one-hundred yards against the Browns, the tables could be turning in the favor of team in the coming weeks. As the Browns have started the process of tinkering with the defensive line, there are those currently on the team who may ultimately be in precarious positions.
Veteran NT Ted Washington was inactive for the Browns latest game against the New England Patriots, and this could be a sign the organization is looking to improve the interior of the defensive line quickly. Head coach Romeo Crennel told reporters following the 34-17 loss that Washington was inactive due to the team's game-plan emphasizing the nickel defense.
Earlier this week, the Browns picked up massive defensive tackle Louis Leonard off waivers from St. Louis, which appears to be the first roster transaction which could help mold this team for the future.
Leonard played for Pat Hill at Fresno State. Hill was a former Browns coach in the early 1990's when general manager Phil Savage was with the team.
A formidably sized lineman, Leonard was signed to the San Diego Chargers practice squad following training camp and is viewed as a player with potential, but who is raw and inexperienced. The likelihood that Leonard provides any significant contribution to this team in the 2007 season is relatively remote. There is a chance, however, due to the state of the nose tackle position and his physical ability, that Leonard may prove to be an active, big-body the team requires.
Over the course of the past two weeks, the Orange and Brown Report has had the opportunity to discuss the state of the defense with a source within the team. As the defense continues to struggle, attention to detail and extra preparation has been an ongoing process within the Browns training facility in Berea, Ohio.
"Our goal is to improve and correct the issues as soon as we possibly can. In this league, when the opposition picks up on a weakness, they generally attack the area until adjustments are made, which in-turn usually creates weakness in another area," the source tells the OBR. "We understand changing the complexion of the defense is not going to occur overnight, but we have to ensure we are not making mistakes and compounding the problem."
With might potentially be the toughest portion of the 2007 season behind the team, the Browns have an opportunity to gain momentum and build upon a relatively solid effort against the Patriots. In the case of the Dolphins, who come to Cleveland Sunday and the Rams following the bye-week, the Browns face teams struggling to generate any offense at all, much less create an offensive identity.
"Facing any team which is struggling is a disaster waiting to happen. Every team, whether a playoff caliber team or one fighting to stay out of the cellar, is dangerous," the source continued. "Miami is a team which is going to run the football, especially with the injury to (quarterback) Trent Green. Don't believe for a second that team will not be ready to play."
"We have saw it here (in Cleveland) with Derek Anderson, the backup comes in and plays well when getting the opportunity. I expect nothing less this coming Sunday. But, I expect us to play the run better and hopefully be successful throwing a few wrinkles into the game plan."