Cleveland Browns Opinions: Answered

Despite the optimism about the Browns, there are some strong opinions out there: Is Derek Anderson is merely a product of the players around him? Will Jamal Lewis coast with his big contract? Is Willie McGinest only playing because of RAC? Lane provides the straight-up takes on these items and more...

Tales and theories regarding the Cleveland Browns that have come in Lane's direction:

- The Browns are not a vertical offensive team.

False. In today's NFL, the vertical game has regressed in overall distance. The Browns were one of the better teams in the 21-to-30 yard zone, which is plenty vertical by today's standards. Also, the Browns ran plenty of plays which covered the 11-to-20 yard area, which is considered intermediate in this era.

- Derek Anderson may be a one-trick pony whose true colors are predicated on the Cleveland offensive scheme.

True. Until we see more development from Anderson and his ability to beat a defense with what they are give, you have to rely on what we see and know about the QB. In training camp, he is working consistently on making throws in the short game and checking down. From my eyes, that has been an obvious improvement in his game. We simply have not viewed enough of the QB being able to beat a team when they take away the over-the-top game.

- The offense of the Cleveland Browns is basically a West Coast offense, that has taken on a different look due to the abilities and inconsistencies of the QB's.

True and False. The Cleveland offensive scheme borrows from the numerous schemes coordinator Rob Chudzinski has been exposed to during his collegiate and professional coaching career. Most people look at Chudzinski and his offensive scheme and consider only his time as a coach on the San Diego staff as his experience.

Chudzinski brings pieces of numerous offensive schemes to his approach in Cleveland. The playbook has some University of Miami flavor to it, from his time at Miami and under Butch Davis in Cleveland. There is some of the flair of the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys system due to his working under Norv Turner and of course his working in San Diego under Turner and Cam Cameron. In some instances, the Cleveland running game has some Kansas City Chiefs power-rushing appeal.

Chudzinski maximizes the talents of those he has to work with. There is no question Derek Anderson is a guy that can throw the football and has a mentality of pressuring and attacking a defense. This is what he does best and Chudzinski mixes and matches to provide this opportunity in the flow of the game.

With another QB on the field, the game would likely be called differently and the look of the offense may be different due to makeup and strengths in that QB's game.

- Now that RB Jamal Lewis was "shown the money", he is going to coast and not be the player he was in the 2007 season.

False. I had the opportunity to see Jamal Lewis in a Baltimore camp and now in Cleveland for a second season. This RB is in better physical condition now than he was in Baltimore and last year with the Browns. If anything, the ability for Lewis to prove the nay-sayers wrong and win a championship with the Browns would only enhance his career, as well as a means to offer up an "I told you so" to the Ravens - an organization that basically told Lewis that he was done.

Lewis is in tremendous shape, the RB is quicker to the hole than last year and has an explosive hop in his step that was there, but not nearly as pronounced last year.

If Lewis remains healthy, he will have a tremendous season.

- Old man OLB Willie McGinest is only taking a roster spot from a young player due to his desire to play another season. If not for head coach Romeo Crennel, McGinest wouldn't even be in Cleveland wasting a roster spot, as he is not productive.

True and False. If Crennel was not in Cleveland, it would be very unlikely Willie McGinest wound be playing in a Cleveland uniform this season. McGinest returned for another season, as he believes this team can be more than a contender and due to his loyalty to Crennel.

McGinest has been very active in practice sessions and is well-versed in the defensive scheme. He provides the leadership and responsibility for calls at his position. His mentoring and leadership of the younger and/or inexperienced players in the scheme is impeccable.

This veteran is tremendous in the lockerroom, as well as his on-field prowess. A healthy McGinest can contribute to this revival of the Cleveland Browns defense.


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