We six-legged critters aren't as fond of the fall and early winter as some of you out there: namely NBA fans, skiiers, and Santa Claus impersonators. You all love winter. We flies aren't quite as fond.
Fortunately, I've made myself a home here in the Browns warm building here in Berea, and I'm compensated by the occasional box of jelly doughnuts by my friends at the OBR. I like that they aren't all that picky about the species the work with, as long as we provide the scoops. Look at how they've kept Rich Passan on staff. There you go.
Frankly, the OBR knows they need to keep me happy. The Plain Dealer offered me a stale waffle last week, but I'm sticking with the guys at the OBR, because they've always stood by me. Plus, they know their doughnuts.
Anyhow, time to live up to my side of the bargain. Here's the latest I've heard while flying around offices and conference rooms in the Browns heavily-secured compound in Berea, Ohio:
- Hidden behind those closed practices that Crennel prefers has been the development of rookie quarterback Brady Quinn. Talking to more than a handful of interested observers within the walls in Berea, we are told the rookie is handling himself quite well. Quinn takes his regular turns with the offense and at times runs the scout team, all to keep him getting a fresh look at the starting defense. More so than not, Quinn prepares weekly just as Derek Anderson does in the event of injury. Players are coaches are pleased with the progress of Quinn and there is no reservation about him seeing the playing field, if the situation dictates such.
- Quarterback Derek Anderson has exceeded expectations and is quickly becoming a known (and desired) commodity in league circles. The Browns have not been inclined to open up the pocketbook and get an extended deal done with the third-year quarterback. As of now, they want to let the season play out and see where the chips fall. If the quarterback continues to demonstrate the ability he has displayed this season, the Browns will certainly tender him at the highest rate.
- Running back Jamal Lewis has become a hot topic - and not due to his underwhelming play. Lewis, despite being as healthy as he has been since early season, has not displayed the ability to hit the hole quick enough. He has not had the vision and patience to read the right hole. The Browns coaching staff believes Lewis has enough in the tank to help this team as the season progresses, but Jason Wright and Jerome Harrison could begin to see more playing time if the rushing efforts are not improved.
- All eyes have been focused toward San Diego Chargers running back Michael Turner as a potential replacement for Jamal Lewis when he becomes a free agent following the season. While Turner is an option for the Browns, remember the name Chester Taylor, currently of the Minnesota Vikings.
- In the loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, the Browns did not see anything that they hadn't viewed on film coming from the AFC rival. In a nutshell, Anderson became too concerned about making the big mistake and taking unnecessary sacks. Meanwhile, the offensive line played very well and the play-calling remained aggressive. The staff was far from pleased with the efforts of the running game when called upon and the apprehension displayed in the passing game in the last two-plus quarters of the game.
- The rush defense has been improving and in no small part due to the improvement of the defensive line in regards to their gap responsibilities and more physical play. Also, with the insertion of Leon Williams into the starting lineup and switching positions with Andra Davis on occasion, the inside linebackers are doing a far greater job of getting into position and off blocks. The play of the two in pass coverage is another story, unfortunately. The duo needs to pick it up to become average.
- Injuries to outside linebackers Willie McGinest and Antwaan Peek have slowed the pass rush and ability to consistently maintain zone responsibility. McGinest is a coach on the field and often is getting the defense lined up. Isn't this the responsibility if the defensive coordinator? This Cleveland defense is far from being the worst in the game talent-wise, which only leads back to the questioning of the performance of DC Todd Grantham. Of course, this has been noted in a couple previous columns here at the Orange and Brown Report, so it won't be a surprise.
- Placing center LeCharles Bentley on the Injured Reserve list did not come as a surprise to anyone associated with the team following his significant knee injury and infection issues. What was surprising is the extent of the rehab in which Bentley has performed and the amazing improvement in strength in the knee region. The team does not plan on attempting to reach an injury settlement with the local Cleveland native, as some in the media have speculated. He'll get his shot.
That's it for now. Buzzing off!