The Browns public relations staff is trying to arrange question-and-answer sessions with the team's coordinators this week for the media.
[Editor's Note: we have since learned that that all three Cleveland Browns coordinators will be available to the media tomorrow.]
There's no need to talk to assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Brad Seely, for other than kicker Phil Dawson being upset about his contract situation, there are no real issues with his group. With Dawson, returner Joshua Cribbs, punter Dave Zastudil and long snapper Ryan Pontbriand leading the way, the Browns have arguably the best special teams units in the NFL.
But that's not the case with the offense and defense, which both have a lot of issues after last season's disappointing finish. Actually, the concerns with the defense go all the way back to the Browns' return in 1999. And other than 2007, the offense has struggled overall as well in this expansion era
Thus, there are a lot of questions that could be asked of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, both of whom are in their first season with the team. But since offense is so much more visible to the average fan, and because there's a q-u-a-r-t-e-r-b-a-c-k c-o-n-t-r-o-v-e-r-s-y, always a big fan favorite in Cleveland, we'll stick with that part of the team for the purposes of this piece.
So in a perfect world, where you could ask all the questions you want of Daboll and he would answer them honestly, here's what we would like to find out:
*In one sentence, how would you describe the scheme you're trying to implement? Will it be based on a power running game and a short, controlled passing attack? And if not, then what?
*Which is the real Anderson, the guy who in 2007 became the first Browns quarterback in 20 years to make it to the Pro Bowl, or the guy who struggled last season and hardly played at all in 2005 and '06?
*Former Browns head coach Romeo Crennel said Anderson, just a sixth-round choice of the Baltimore Ravens in the 2005 NFL Draft, struggled in the 2007 quarterback competition with Charlie Frye because he felt trapped. Crennel pointed out that Anderson had Frye, the incumbent and the local favorite, on one side of him, and Quinn, the team's 2007 first-round draft pick, on the other side. Crennel said that once the Browns traded Frye after one game in 2007 and gave the job to Anderson, the pressure lifted for him. With Quinn and Brett Ratliff, who played for Browns head coach Eric Mangini when they were both with the New York Jets, seemingly here to stay, how do you keep Anderson from feeling trapped again? How do you make him relax so that he can put his best foot forward and show you what he can do, which he failed to do in 2007?
*Quinn has played little the last two years, and then in 2008 when he finally got the chance, he suffered a season-ending thumb injury. His career is beginning to slip away from him -- he's got to get onto the field soon -- so is it imperative that he come through this year and win the job?
*The fans are heavily behind Quinn. He is an Ohioan and a former Notre Dame star and they want to see him play. Obviously, no coach can be concerned with what the fans think, but if Anderson is named the starter, are you and he prepared for a negative reaction, especially at home games when he merely as much as throws an incomplete pass?
*Quarterback competitions can tear teams apart as the rest of the players side up with one or the other. How will you make sure this doesn't happen here?
*How soon before the regular-season opener on Sept. 13 against the Minnesota Vikings do you want to make a decision?
*Mangini said the two things he's looking for in this battle is huddle presence and the ability to run the team. What are you looking for?
*Once you make your decision, is it practical to keep the loser in the competition on the roster? Wouldn't it be better to trade him to the highest bidder in this quarterback-starved league and create a situation where your starter doesn't feel as if there's someone looking over his shoulder?
*If you keep both players and the starter struggles, would you be hesitant to pull him and go with the back-up for fear of creating a revolving-door situation?
*Is Braylon Edwards ready to have another season like 2007, when he enjoyed the best year ever for a Browns wide receiver, or another season like 2008, when he really struggled?
*Because of wide receiver Donte Stallworth's legal problems, don't you just have to assume you'll be without him for much, if not all, of this season?
*Who is ahead at No. 2 wideout between the two second-round draft picks, Brian Robiskie and Mohammed Massaquoi?
*Does running back Jamal Lewis have something left, and if so, how much?
*Even if Lewis is the starter, would you be willing to give Jerome Harrison more of a chance to still play for extended periods, something that did not happen with the previous coaching regime?
*At the same time, though, at just 5-foot-9 and 295 pounds, is Harrison big enough -- and a good enough blocker -- to be an every-down back?
*Even with Lewis and Harrison, you're thin at running back. Do you need to sign a veteran there?
*You didn't draft center Alex Mack in the first round so he could sit on the bench. He's going to play, obviously, and soon. How soon, exactly, will that happen, and when it does, is there still room on the roster for the starter the last three years, veteran Hank Fraley?
*Left guard Eric Steinbach played well the last two seasons with the Browns, and before that for four years with the Cincinnati Bengals, weighing less than 300 pounds. Is it really such an issue that he get bigger?
*Is he ahead of Rex Hadnot in the battle there?
*Is Ryan Tucker set at right guard?
*Who leads the competition at right tackle between John St. Clair and Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack?
*Considering all this, then, can your offense score enough points to be competitive in a league where every rule change in the last 30 years has been made to provide for more scoring?