Highlights from Ask the Insiders

With all OBR articles free through Sunday night, we've been asked to let non-subscribers into some of the action in our exclusive Ask the Insiders forum. Here's a sample of questions answered by Lane, Fred, and Barry on Saturday...


Dawgbacker26:  Insiders, can you give us the extent of injuries on Kevin Shaffer, Ethan Kelley, and Shaun Smith? Adding Eric Wright, that is 4 knees to major players on this team! If Schaeffer cannot go, what's the possibility we see Steinbach move to the RT spot, putting Friedman at LG and leaving Tucker at RG? On D, if Smith and Kelly are out, does that put L. Leonard on the nose?

Lane Adkins: Shaffer has been limited in practice, but wants to give it a go on Sunday. Kelley does not look good for Sunday. Shaun Smith is limited and really is not near 100%. He has not been ruled out as of Friday evening and could be a game-time decision. Eric Wright will not play, but will be back on the field within a couple weeks, at the maximum. Yes, if Kelley and Smith are unable to go, Leonard would be at the nose. Also, if Leonard is forced into playing time, Roye and Robaire Smith will also see time on the inside.

tbill09: I would like to get the insiders take on our defensive play. People keep talking about our bend but not break defense in 2005 and 2006 and how much worse we are this year. Don't you think part of the issue is that our offense is scoring so much that other teams are forced to attack us and put more points on the board? In the past two years if a team scored 14 pts they were pretty much a lock to win the game. That is not the case this year. I think that is why our pass defense appeared so good last year because teams knew they could run the ball at will and kill the clock. I do think we have regressed a little this year but I think in the past our defense appeared much better then we really were. What are your takes?

Fred Greetham: That's almost exactly what I've said and written. The opponents in the past knew if they scored 17-20 points the game was over so they just controlled the game on the ground. The Browns couldn't come back in the Mo Carthon offense. Now, the opponents are passing and attacking.

Barry McBride: Just to add to what  Fred said above (and has said on our radio show), my take is that the failure to adapt quickly to the different style of game has been the first-half failure for the Browns. With a higher-scoring offense, it would seem to be possible for the Browns to take more defensive risks, particularly when it was obvious that teams were going to have to go through the air to keep up with the Browns. In addition, the team's personnel is better suited for an attacking defense, and I'm thinking mostly of our outside linebackers, than it has been since Jamir Miller ripped his achilles.

We're seeing a slow evolution of the defense to a more aggressive style, but it's still seems stuck in the "keep the ball in front of you" mode from 2005. This may be due to some inertia on the coaching side but may also be due to the lack of blockers being eaten up by the front three. The increase in the team's ability to blitz and the exit of Ted Washington may not be entirely coincidental.

Gary Reents: After rewatching the game, I was struck with the ineptness that defines the Browns blitzing. Pool, for instance when coming on a blitz and seeing a blocker will immediately break down and start dancing with him trying to get around the blocker. And on the blitz that Williams was called for face mask, it sure looked like he was supposed to take an outside path to open an inside lane for a blitzer from the secondary. Instead he ended up stopping in the path of the oncoming blitzer before he continued to try to get around the blocker. The alternative is that the Browns designed a blitzer out of the secondary to run the longest distance of all the pass rushers. That would be dumb. What is the word from the staff, players, or your own comments on why the blitz is so often late and slow for the Browns?

Lane Adkins: Questionable scheme and/or timing, inside linebackers lacking quickness and a safety which is not aggressive spells unproductive results. Blitz packages are worked on weekly, in the case of the Browns this should be noted as weakly. I understand the team has a couple looks which we will be seeing in the near future in this department.

BleedingOrangeAndBrown: Has the league issued a statement as to why he wasn't ejected from the game or received a suspension for his punch to Joe Thomas's head? Instead he received a small fine, the same exact fine that was given to Jamal Lewis for spiking the ball ON THE SIDELINES. I am positive that a suspension or ejection would send a better message since it effects a whole team, instead of a small fine comparable to pocket change to most of these players. I am curious of the Insider's take on this issue and perhaps some insight on how the NFL issues punishments.

Lane Adkins: The league office blew it on this one as Ngata and Lewis' incidents are far from similar. Throwing a punch is a act which could have had the player ejected from the game. Both are considered unsportsmanlike, but this is where any direct reference should end.

Jevanoff: Lane, Nice article, I agree with everything you said. What I don't understand is the 'why' though. WHY is Anderson doing that? I know that a lot of it is the 'take care of the ball' mentality - which he has been taking to the extreme - but why is nobody moderating this? Extremes are never good, either way. Taking way too many risks is bad, and taking no risks at all is equally bad. I did see a TINY bit of improvement from the Pitt game, but not enough to obviously tell that the coaches said 'hey look we want you to take care of the ball but you're going too far'.

Lane Adkins: The issues have been identified and the coaching continues. Let's remember, Anderson is far from a seasoned veteran and will make mistakes until he gains a comfort level what what is seeing.

Both the Steelers and Ravens disguise well, though they did absolutely nothing the Browns hadn't viewed on film in some capacity. Much of the offensive issue resulted from Anderson being extremely cautious and I would note he needs to gain more experience and confidence in his reads.

The Cleveland offense scheme and demeanor is one of an attacking style, when the defense attempts to slow or change the look, the coordinator, QB and supporting players must adjust.

This is an area where the entire unit did not exceed expectations, with the majority of the issue falling on the inability to adjust at the line of scrimmage.

DawgDC: I asked in the cooler but no one seemed to know, but is Kenny Wright still on the team or is he in the dog house for something he has done?

Fred Greetham: He's on the team, but has not been much help. He's either been hurt, away on personal business or something else. He's been a big disappointment as a signing, particularly when Wright gets hurt. They have to play Daven Holly and rookie Brandon McDonald.

Barry McBride: For the record, we've been scratching our heads about the Kenny Wright signing since day one.

Iconoclast88: The circulating opinion is that the Browns will put the highest tender on DA this offseason to force a team to give up a first and a third in order to sign him. I was wondering about the possibility of franchising him to require two first round picks.  I know this would cost more money but if we could get more out of DA then I say do it (if we're going to lose him at all). My main question is . . . saying we do lose DA this offseason . . . what is the absolute MOST we will get for him??  What is the absolute LEAST?

Fred Greetham: Franchising him, like you said, would require two first-round picks. that would be the most and if they offered him a lower tender, I think they would only get a sixth-round pick because that is what he came into the NFL at. I can't see them tagging him with the franchise because that means he would be in the top 5 in salary at his position: Manning, Brady, etc.. More realistically, I see them giving him the tender that would require a first- and either a second or third. That would be pretty steep for a team to give that up.

Atoms: Has there been any word on who (or what position) Phil is looking at to fill the open spot on PS?

Fred Greetham: No word, but I would think DL would be near the top priority.

Barry McBride: With this team, there are never too many tight ends on the practice squad. ;-) To the best of our knowledge, however, the team has not brought any players in for tryouts in the last two or three weeks... it's been real quiet. They may not fill the spot until they get a chance to look at some players next Tuesday. They also just lost a running back, so they may have another RB that piques their interest.

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