Word from inside the Browns organization on the subject of the team's defense...
Was the organization disappointed in the play of Brodney Pool during the 2007 season?
"No. Brodney did was was expected of him last season. While there were numerous issues on the defensive side of the ball, I would not be comfortable in saying he did not play well, or Sean Jones did not play well. The overall state of the defense last season was a disappointment, a vast, unexpected disappointment.
The team lacked consistency in numerous areas at varying times... when we did play as a unit the results were positive. Over the second half of the season, the defensive backfield played much better. We simply lacked the ability to stop the run and get pressure on the quarterback.
I believe Brodney Pool is going to have a very good season, he has the physical ability to be a consistent performer for us. Brodney has spent significant time on tape and has been active with the DC on recognition and responsibility."
Heading into training camp, the defensive backfield lacks experience, do you see this is an issue at this time?
"The youth and athleticism is something we have discussed in great lengths, and we are fully aware of the situation. We have gotten a good look at some of the new guys over the past few months and feel that we have some talent, but we are at point where these guys are going to make mistakes while they develop. Eric Wright had a good rookie season, the experience he gained is immeasurable and that showed as he came to camp this offseason and was a confident player who was not making mistakes.
You look at a young guy like Brandon McDonald and see the ability... he did a very good job in practice sessions throughout the year and played well in the opportunities he received. Losing Daven Holly hurt. We believe he is a player that would fit well in this defensive scheme, but having the ability to bring Jereme Perry certainly helps.
With all the youth, the biggest move could be the signing of Terry Cousin. Cousin played very well for Jacksonville again last season and really fills a void for us, not only as a nickel/slot CB but due to his experience and quality play. From the time he got on the field, Terry (Cousin) was talking and working with the CB's."
Are you going to add another CB to the roster prior or during training camp?
"If the right type of talent were to be available at the right price, we may be inclined to add a player. Right now we have no intention of adding a player for the sake of a signing. We will have a better idea on the direction we will head as we get closer to camp. We really like the young talent we have in camp, there are some guys here that can play in this league in time, we have to consider every possible scenario."
"At this time nothing has changed in regards to our position on Ty Law, nor have we heard of any significant change in his position. Law has a history with Romeo (Crennel) and only furthers any speculation. Right now, Law is looking for a role and deal much greater than we would propose or have remotely thought about. If we make a move and Law is within the range of salary and role, he could be a player we have an interest in.
Dyson is another veteran CB that has had success in the NFL and knows how to play the game. Injury issues are always a concern, but he is a player to consider due to his ability, in some capacity, if we were to look to add another CB prior to or during training camp."
Do the undrafted free agent CB's, Mil'von James and Damon Jenkins, have a realistic shot of making this team in 2008?
"Like most rookies, they are going to make mistakes and we expect that. We have been impressed how well both James and Jenkins have picked up what we are doing and expect. This is a testament to the coaching and communication skills of the staff. Both are interesting players, Jenkins is more fluid and moves well, we like how he uses his hands off the line. James is the type of player that has a knack for the football. He is not as polished, but he definitely is the type of player that will fight, and he has talent.
Right now, there are opportunities in the defensive backfield, it is difficult enough for one undrafted free agent to make a roster, much less two. Despite that, we like both players, if we did not see the potential neither player would be going to camp with us."
If you had to name the potential players on the roster at the CB position heading out of camp, who would they be?
"Barring injury or the complete unexpected, you have to like Wright, McDonald, Cousin, Perry and Davis. It is not out of the question that one of the undrafted rookies could make an impression and stick, or a veteran CB that could come into camp at some point. We feel fairly certain of our top-four at this time, the balance of depth will play itself out."
What was the underlying factor in the poor defensive showing a season ago and what makes the organization believe the 2008 season could be different ?
"Injuries, depth, overall talent and a lack of communication all contributed to the poor showing. What was disturbing is the fact we could not stop the opposition from making big plays against us at the most inopportune time.
Looking back, if we slow the running game against the Raiders, we win that game. The same can be said about the game in Arizona and our lack of making plays and playing disciplined defense led to the loss to the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
We were aggressive this offseason to attack these specific situations. We feel very good that the acquisition of Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers will help us manage the line of scrimmage, minimize the run and get to the quarterback. This significant talent upgrade should enhance the talent of Robaire Smith and Shaun Smith, as well as provide the LB's space to run to the ball. If our front seven plays well, our defensive backs are going to be all the better, and we like the youth and athleticism in the defensive backfield.
Mel Tucker (new defensive coordinator) is very good at communicating. We envision the communication issues and lack of discipline in the scheme will be an issue of the past.
Going forward, we will see a scaled down approach in the mental aspects of the scheme and much more reliance on players reacting, using our athleticism in making plays and being stronger at the point of attack. Over the past couple seasons, we believe there has been too much change and confusion for us to develop and play at a high level on a consistent basis."