Could "The Drive" finally come back to help the Browns?
Could it be a valuable teaching tool for use sometime this season?
At least Browns head coach Eric Mangini hopes so.
Mangini said Wednesday as the Browns continued their voluntary, three-day, full-squad minicamp that the club had worked on their two-minute and no-huddle offense and defense the previous day.
"We try to create those as realistically as we possibly can," he said.20"We have a list of hundreds and hundreds of two-minute situations that have come up historically throughout NFL games. It could be ‘The Drive' -- it could be any of those things -- and we put our team in that situation. We see how we do and teach off of that and are able to look at what actually happened in the drive that took place in an NFL game and compare the two."
Wait a minute, Coach, you mean "The Drive," as in quarterback John Elway taking his Denver Broncos 98 yards for a touchdown in the waning minutes of regulation in the 1986 AFC Championship Game and forever breaking the hearts of the Browns and their fans?
Yes, the very one in question, Mangini confirmed.
He seemed surprised that the media kept pumping him with questions about The Drive. Finally, he said, "I don't want to overplay that. That was one example in a context of hundreds. It was just one example in a group of hundreds and hundreds of two-minute drives that we have."
Yeah, but those drives don't matter around here, Coach. The mere thought of them doesn't make Northeast Ohioans physically ill.
So, Coach, how would have defensed The Drive? Hopefully, it wouldn't have been with a prevent scheme.
"I wasn't there, but we practiced it and we see how we do," he said. "That's the reason the two-minute drive is one of my favorite parts of practice, because I don't know what's going to happen.
"You put the time up on the clock, the situation, score and timeouts and the officials run it and the coaches run it. Whatever happens, happens. You see how everybody reacts, and you see what tendencies are, and you see how well you understand the context that you are operating in.
"It's great. You can script a ton of stuff, but the things that come up there, you can't script it. But you can definitely coach it."
And maybe – just maybe -- he would have coached it better than Marty Schottenheimer did 23 seasons ago.
GIVING PRACTICE THE BOOT: Phil Dawson continues to stay away from these voluntary practices. He missed all three days of last week's minicamp and has been absent for the first two days this week. It would be a shock if he showed up on Thursday, and it seems highly unlikely he'll be in attendance when the club has three more voluntary practices in an OTA next week. Though no one is saying for sure, it seems that Dawson wants to have his contract, which runs through 2010, renegotiated, and is using his absence – without fanfare – to silently drive home that point. One of the best kickers in the game today, Dawson is the only player left not just on the Browns but in the league overall from their 1999 expansion squad. He is being replaced in this camp by rookie Parker Douglass, who has been performing well . "Douglass has taken advantage of his opportunities. He has done well with his chances," Mangini said. It will be interesting to see how this ultimately plays out.
JAMAL WITH THE BALL: Running back Jamal Lewis (ankle) was able to practice some after spending last week working on the side pulling a sled with a rope attached to his waist. … Tight end Steve Heiden (ankle, knee) and defensive end Corey Williams (shoulder) worked on the side.
PLAYS OF THE DAY: Brady Quinn hit a wide-open Lance Leggett on a deep pass down the left sideline. The young wide receiver is looking impressive. … Another wideout who is playing well is rookie Brian Robiskie of Chagrin Falls (Ohio) High School and Ohio State. He's a very smart receiver who runs good routes. … Backup kickoff returner Gerard Lawson showed his speed by racing untouched past tacklers. … Tight end Martin Rucker made a fingertip grab of a Richard Bartell pass on a deep slant. … Rookie defensive back Don Carey of Norfolk State made a leaping interception on a pass intended for Devale Ellis on a crossing route.
HAVING A FIELD(S) DAY: After redoing the two rear practice fields last offseason, the Browns ground crew has redone the two front fields this offseason. The crew also just finished redoing about 75 percent of the field at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
DOGGED DETERMINATION: There have been many changes on the Browns since last season, but one thing has remained constant. That is, the dog that has lived in a house next to one of the practice fields for the last 10 years, is still there, and still has strong vocal chords that allow him to bark non-stop through practice.
QUOTABLE: "I think there will definitely be similarities to it. The beauty of the 3-4 is its flexibility. Often times you think of the 3-4 and you think of what it means, three down lineman and four linebackers without space in the dark uncovered. So many people play different ways. Pittsburgh's version is very different. Baltimore's version is different then Pittsburgh's. Dallas is different from both of theirs. New England's, ours, they are all 3-4's, but you have balanced amount of people on either side. You've got a balanced secondary, you've got a balanced front, and how you want to redistribute those players is up to each coordinator and everybody approaches that in a unique way. The beauty of it is any one of those linebackers can become a fourth-down lineman. It could be the outside guy on the right, the outside guy on the left, either of the two interior guys. You can create a lot of different fronts by just moving one piece and get the 4-3 type concepts." – Mangini on the differences/similarities between the 3-4 defense he will run and the 3-4 used the last four seasons under his predecessor, Romeo Crennel.