Tales From The Inbox

Lane digs deep into his mailbag and attempts to assuage the deep feeling of impending secondary doom following last night's loss to the Bretts... errr... Jets. Oh, and he addresses that giant sucking sound some claim they heard when the defensive reserves took the field.

Q: How can we feel comfortable, how can the team be comfortable, seeing the cornerbacks being beaten time and time again, as was the case against the Jets?

LA: I'm sure the organization wasn't at all satisfied with the big plays the second and third team positional players gave up in this pre-season game. The defense following the starting unit looked very similar to the 2007 defense. Meaning, the CB's played well off the ball and attempted to keep everything in front of them to make plays. It was disappointing to see A.J. Davis beaten as he was in the third quarter. It also was disheartening to see safety Nick Sorensen very late in cover-the-top support.

CB Terry Cousin was brought in to improve experience and depth at the position. Putting him out on an island is not what he does best... he is solid in the slot and will ultimately end up in that spot. Outside of a couple plays, the defense did what it did in the 2007 season, but with much better results against the run.

I don't believe the roster depth at the end of camp will look the same as it does today, nor do I believe this team is going to rely on rookie Mil'von James and safety Nick Sorensen in the 2008 season.

Q: As expected, the Browns cornerbacks couldn't match-up well and now we know, this team needs to make a move and get a Ty Law or other presence in here immediately.

LA: Somewhere in that statement, I find a question. When you play young and raw talent, you expect some of what occurred against the Jets. I didn't like to see the defensive backs playing soft, but I anticipated as much due to the relative unknowns at the position. The team has been looking at potential players in the defensive backfield to add to the roster to improve quality and depth. That hasn't changed, and one game at the start of pre-season means nothing at this point.

If Ty Law were willing to be a role player and not command big dollars, he might have already been added to the roster. There are available players out there, but organization is evaluating what they have in-house first.

Don't panic. The team knows what the available players (via sign are trade) can do on the field. This early portion of camp is to see what the lower end guys on the roster can achieve.

What are your biggest concerns for this team heading toward the season opener and why?

LA: I still maintain the depth along the defensive line, cornerback and safety are important concerns. I'd like to see someone from the roster develop into a legitimate quality player. The Browns need this not only in the event of injury, but to have another option to spell the big guys along the defensive line.

At corner, it is a tale of youth and inexperience filling the slots for the most part. I'm good with CB Terry Cousin in the slot; but he is suspect in anything other than the slot. There is a reason why the organization has openly noted they are keeping all their options open, as they are not comfortable with the depth in the defensive backfield.

I simply do not see this team heading into the season with significant youth and inexperience in the defensive backfield. If a starter were to be injured, I don't see a corner on the roster who can step in and hold the fort down yet.

We have quite a ways to go, and I have viewed players come out of nowhere and produce when given an opportunity. The next couple weeks of camp should provide many answers regarding the quality and depth of the DB's.

Q: I understand there is a reason why teams have training camp and the rosters have many players available, but doesn't it bother you when the defense looked so much like the 2007 version?

LA: No, I am not bothered. Viewing the starting defensive unit on a daily basis, I can see the change in mentality, talent and scheme. I don't believe the starting CB's are going to play nearly as much soft coverage.

This is going to be a team that will not be easy to run on effectively, unless injuries come into play. The opposition is going to be forced into throwing the ball and the down-and-distance situations should be more manageable for the defense.

This team has been overly concerned about being beaten over the top in years past. That's part of the reasoning behind their soft coverage and desire to keep the play in front of them. The theory is that a team would have to be nearly perfect to drive the length of the field. When the defense can manage the run element, the game changes.

Q: This defense sucks, the Jets moved the ball up and down the field. The cornerbacks can't cover, the defensive line can't move anyone and the linebackers are old and slow. Looks like we are headed to another dismal season and the Steelers will again reign supreme.

LA: And I thought I was taking some mind-altering medications!

The New York Jets did not move the ball up and down the field. Of all the complaints I have heard and read about the game Thursday night, this one takes the cake, from my perspective. If I remember correctly, the Browns were up 17-10 after three quarters and that was with giving up the first of two bombs. Hardly sucking in my book.

Outside of two huge plays by the Jets' offense and another by the special teams, the New York offensive assault was minimal, even with the Browns playing a soft cover scheme and with second and third team defenders on the field. And those are plays the Cleveland defensive coaches will spend significant time covering with the players in film sessions later in the week prior to the next practice session.

The starting corners looked solid in coverage, the starting linebackers flowed to the ball. While the starting defensive line did not create significant pressure on the QB, they did push back the offensive line of the Jets and completely controlled any attempt by the Jets to run the football.

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