Q: It only took one game to see what has been transpiring with the Browns. Same crap players, same crap coaches and the same results. Again, the 2009 season is done before it has even started. Fire Mangini and get a real coach in here. Where is all the hope things would change for the Browns?
LA: One and done I see.
I can understand why Browns fans are so damn critical; the team has been an embarrassment for the better part of ten years.
I don't know about you, but when I watch this team in practice sessions and in the pre-season games, I am looking for progress in the system, honing in on numerous individual performances to gauge the development, picking up on tendencies and the chemistry of the units making up the team.
Using the pre-season opener as a primary example of this team being headed toward another terrible season may be a little quick on the draw. The coaching staff had the defense showing very little in that game and we have seen far more installs within the scheme in practice sessions. Mangini will not lay all his cards on the table until the regular season opener.
Despite this angle, Mangini was not happy with the overall performance last Saturday evening and he wasn't expecting this team to come out and be world-beaters. It was simple: execute what has been worked on in practice, be in position and limit the mental mistakes.
As for Mangini, I am of the belief you have to give the man time to imprint his style and scheme onto this team. Mangini is a smart coach in the beginning stages of changing a mentality within the organization that took three years to fully create.
Q: We keep hearing good things coming from training camp, yet the team lays an egg in the opener. Is this a case of the offense and defense of the Browns being below average, where each unit can take advantage of the other at any given time? To me, the defensive linemen look slow and the offensive line, especially up the middle, performed poorly.
LA: When facing off against the same player day after day, you pick up on their tendencies and learn to exploit their weaknesses. We do see some of this in camp, but Mangini and his staff make a concerted effort mixing up the sessions to limit players from simply falling into this trap.
I do not disagree with your assessment. The defensive ends have been rather ordinary in camp; while there are some moments when a player does something spectacular most of the play at the end position has been workmanlike.
The offensive line is an area I have spent a countless amount of time watching. To this point, I am not impressed with the interior run-blocking of LG Eric Steinbach, C Hank Fraley and at times RG Floyd Womack.
I'll also add, I have been told the head coach is far from feeling comfortable with the interior of this offensive line.
Q: For a team lacking the ability to get to the quarterback, it is a refreshing change to hear that Eric Mangini puts young players on the field and provides them an opportunity to play, unlike his predecessor. With players like Marcus Benard, Titus Brown and David Veikune getting some serious playing time, is it possible that Mangini will buck the system and play these young guys early in the season?
LA: All three players you mention have had their share of success on the practice field during training camp. Benard is a hungry young man. Very athletic and determined, he is the underdog that never quits -- and he has some raw talent. The more he is on the field, the more comfortable he looks. Right now, he has the motor to get after the QB, but he needs to work on recognizing all the responsibilities of an OLB, which includes his pas coverage drops.
Titus Brown was a hit early, but has begun to taper off a bit. Despite not being the flash Benard is coming off the edge, he is further along in the overall aspects of playing the position. A roster spot could come down to one of the two young LB's.
Veikune, a second-round draft selection, has not disappointed. He has spent much more time at ILB than OLB, though he does slide outside in some specific defensive packages. He hits a ton and is pretty damn agile for a player that goes full speed from whistle to whistle.
Injuries could vault Veikune into a prominent role early, while a player such as Benard or Brown could see time on special teams and in some situational roles getting after the QB.
Q: Corey Williams was a high-profile acquisition by the organization a year ago that did not pan out. Now in his second season with the Browns he is starting at defensive end. Is this a true indication that he has arrived in Cleveland and should we expect great things from number 99 for the Browns?
LA: Yes, Williams was a high-profile pickup by former GM Phil Savage that struggled a season ago due to playing in a new defensive scheme, as well as suffering a shoulder injury.
Williams has had his share of good moments in camp, as well as his fair share of not-so-memorable moments. Being moved to the top of the depth chart is surprising, as he has not appeaed to have fared as well as Robaire Smith and C.J. Mosley. Presently, Williams is a player that has shown improvement in the two-gap, but his inconsistency of recognizing and maintaining his gap integrity comes into question.
Now, if this team was a 4-3 scheme, I would line Williams up next to Shaun Rogers and watch the show. They could potentially be one of the top-five duos on the inside.
I hope Williams pans out, but I seriously have doubts that he is going to be the force expected when signed to that lucrative deal a year ago, after the Browns surrendered a second-round draft selection to secure his rights.
Q: Lets not beat around the bush. We have a few weeks until the Browns take the field against the Minnesota Vikings. Now, if you were the head coach based on what you know and see, who would be the starting quarterback and why?
LA: I'd go with Brady Quinn at QB and game plan accordingly. In watching the young man for the last three years in camp, during the season and in talks with those around him and this roster, he is a young man that pushes himself and others to succeed.
When I look at him and Derek Anderson, I see two players: one that struggles to maintain consistency in practice sessions, and the other displaying the ability to move the team and make plays.
Quinn simply appears to be better suited to play the short game and be a keep-the-chains-moving type of QB. One thing I do not doubt, from personal observation, is that Quinn is a better game-condition player than he is practice player. Additionally, Quinn's mentality and awareness make him a very good candidate to lead this offense in the hurry-up more than we have viewed in the past. His preparation will have him poised to change the play at the line of scrimmage, a facet of the offense that has changed under the new coaching staff.
These two factors play considerably into my decision in going with Quinn.
I don't know if Quinn is a better QB or will be a better QB than Anderson, but in watching the young man, I am willing to take my chances with him.