Adkins: Right to the Point

Lane Adkins offers his thoughts on the Browns-Bengals match-up. How positive was Sunday's win? Lane brings straight talk, as always...

- A win is a win and the Browns will certainly take one from their trip to Cincinnati this past Sunday. Getting into the victory column was essential for this team, though the avenue taken was not pretty. Again, though, a win is a win.

- The Browns have endured injuries that have caused issues for this team, but the same should be noted on the Cincinnati side of the ball. The loss of QB Carson Palmer was very beneficial for the Browns as Ryan Fitzpatrick is not anything close to the Bengals regular starter. Chalk the injury battle up as a win for the Cleveland side.

- So much for the short leash around the neck of QB Derek Anderson. The QB did not play well for the most part of three quarters, but did manage the team efficiently down the home stretch. A touchdown scoring drive late in the second half appeared to provide Anderson and the Cleveland offense a sense of confidence. It does not take much to turn the tide for a struggling player or unit; maybe the sequence of events late in the second half against the Bengals will be something this Cleveland team builds on.

- Heading into the bye week, it will be interesting to follow this team coming off a lackluster win (but a win nonetheless). Until the latter stages of the game, I did not see any reason for head coach Romeo Crennel to keep trotting Anderson back on the field. While only speculating, I tend to believe that, due to the closeness of the game, the head coach wanted to keep using the QB he is comfortable with.

- Throughout this game, the Browns starting QB played tentatively and without much flair. Anderson's decision-making process remained questionable at best. The Cincinnati defense schemed to pinch the edges and bring pressure through the interior of the Cleveland offensive line. Under pressure at times, Anderson and the Browns offense was out of rhythm, with the QB displaying a tendency of looking to get rid of the ball -- somewhere -- rather than letting plays develop. I wouldn't say the QB has become gun-shy, but Anderson shows every indication that he is wavering mentally; pulling the trigger and trusting your stuff has become an issue for this QB. Not until the latter stages of the game did the QB step into his attempts and look reasonably comfortable.

- The Browns' gameplan in this latest installment of the 'Battle of Ohio',looked to be focused on shielding the QB as much as possible. The Browns injected a large dose of power football, a possible response to the battlecry from some within the ranks following last week's loss in Baltimore. Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski was effective in mixing the run and pass, though the execution of the Cleveland offense again was inconsistent. In this case, the Browns attempted to get the passing game on track behind a consistent rushing effort. In all, the offensive gameplan was effective and successful, but the right side of this Cleveland offensive line is not playing well.

- One can sense the pressure within the ranks on the offensive side of the ball. During the game there were numerous verbal incidents between the skill players -- the receivers and QB in particular -- with RB Jamal Lewis getting involved on at least one occasion to settle issues down before they escalated even further. Receivers within the Browns' offense are upset with the inability to get them the ball when the opportunity presents itself, whether that's by the design of the scheme or the inconsistency and poor execution of the offense in general -- a telling tale to the frustration that has set in with this offense.

- With the Cincinnati Bengals loading the box to stop the run, it was a solid move by Chudzinski and Anderson to look to TE Kellen Winslow one-on-one against the safety. Winslow has the ability to beat a safety in this design. Yesterday the QB was accurate when going to the TE - which has been an issue in recent weeks as passes have been off the mark. This has created down and distance issues for this challenged offense.

- Too bad the same cannot be expressed in regards to WR Braylon Edwards. While a threat, Edwards has become part of the issue, rather than part of a solution. Edwards far too often is jawing at members of the opposing defense, which only tells me the young receiver is letting the opposition take him out of his game as he has made little positive impact through four games this season. Edwards frustration was evident on the sidelines during the game - along with his celebration following his four-yard TD reception.

- Lost in the shuffle was WR Syndric Steptoe's contribution on gameday. Steptoe hauled in a meaningful 17-yard reception along the sideline, which was a needed positive development in this game as well as an acknowledgement that the QB went to someone other than his primary weapons. The undersized Steptoe also did a reasonable job chipping at the point to help the Browns' rushing attack.

- The overall quality and impact of the Browns special teams has not been special thus far this 2008 season. A season ago, the Cleveland offense thrived in part due to the field position the special teams provided. This season, the play of the special teams has been average at best - not only in the return game, but in the coverage game as well. Some of the issues are related to the high ankle sprain suffered by Josh Cribbs in the pre-season; but the issues as a whole can be directed to the loss of key members of these units. Cribbs' 44-yard kickoff return was a bright spot in what was another average performance by the special teams.

- As the Browns' offense has been on center stage, it has been the defense which has been methodical, but inspiring. NT Shaun Rogers continues to be a disruptive force as this unit minimizes big plays by the opposition. Following the season-opening debacle against the Dallas Cowboys, the Cleveland defense has been statistically solid. Granted, this Browns defense has not faced an opposition when at full strength since then, but the improvement in the Browns' defense has been evident against those lined-up against since the opener.

- I am of the belief the Browns' defense can be effective, if the offense can manage time of possession effectively. Though this is the case with most teams in the league, the factor weighs heavily on this Cleveland defense. Against a Cincinnati offense which was without their starting quarterback and a questionable offensive line, however, the Browns' defense rose to the occasion. The play of safeties Mike Adams and Brodney Pool was solid, while LB D'Qwell Jackson displayed solid discipline and flow to the ballcarrier.

- Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker's defense was aggressive and created problems for Cincinnati back-up QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (as they should have). The timing of the Cincinnati offense was lacking and the Browns defense helped keep the late-named starter off-balance with a series of different blitz packages, along with some solid gap integrity and penetration. Much like the Cleveland offense, the Bengals' offense is a model of inconsistency and lack of leadership.

- On this day, the Browns did enough to win the game, much like the Bengals didn't do enough to win. This was a much-needed win and confidence booster for a team heading into the bye-week. At 1-3 the season is far from over, but the efforts on this day will not let anyone following this team, nor associated with the team, believe everything is rosy from here on out. Issues still remain.



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