A season ago, the Cleveland Browns were rarely effective running the football. Coupled with an inefficient passing game, the Browns' offense was as poor as any witnessed in this modern day of professional football over the last half of the season.
Rather than overhauling the cast of characters at the running back position, the organization determined a change of offensive philosophy and strategy is in order.
Upon completion of the lengthy player evaluation process head coach Eric Mangini underwent, the man in charge of the Browns was not impressed. Reportedly, the head coach was not fond of the Browns' offensive scheme. Too much finesse along the offensive line, slow-developing plays -- in part due to indecision on the part of the RBs -- and questionable decisions and poor on-the-field management of the QBs was evident to Mangini.
Heading into the 2009 season, the Browns are expected to focus primarily on becoming an increasingly physical team at the point of attack. To accomplish that goal, size and experience was added along the offensive line to help expedite the process.
In adding power-type offensive linemen to the equation, Mangini hopes to silence many of the issues this Browns team faced in the 2008 season.
Jamal Lewis remains the incumbent at RB. Lewis has not been involved in most of the OTAs and mini-camp sessions. Working his way back from ankle surgery, Lewis appears to be in the plans of Mangini and the Browns heading into training camp as he is the lone RB on the roster with significant game experience.
But, if the injury bug lingers and Lewis proves to be ineffective as he was a season ago, the plan could quickly change. Mangini will provide the veteran the opportunity to show if he has the ability to remain an integral member of the offense.
Fourth-year RB Jerome Harrison figures to garner plenty of opportunities to display the ability viewed on sporadic occasions a season ago. Rarely utilized in his first three seasons with the Browns -- in part due to the former staff questioning his ability to follow through on RB assignments -- Harrison practiced hard and waited on an opportunity.
Compact and quick, Harrison has been a spark plug in the backfield throughout the Browns OTA and mini-camp sessions this off-season. Grasping the opportunity to work with the first team, Harrison displayed sufficient speed to get to the corner, but it is his vision and patience as a runner that has caught the eye of the coaching staff.
As training camp quickly approaches, the Cleveland Browns are hopeful that Lewis can rebound from a poor 2008 season and Harrison can be productive in the reps he is garnering.
For this Cleveland team at the present, a Lewis-Harrison tandem may be in the offing, much like Mangini's former RB duo Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, while the head coach of the New York Jets a season ago.