Flash Analysis: Browns Offense Vs. Titans

After breaking down the defense yesterday, Lane Adkins takes a look at how the offense performed, including some surprises along the offensive line. Oh yeah, and that whole QB thing we've heard a little about...

- The Cleveland Browns special teams are again looking to be special. Special teams play has slipped over the past two seasons in Cleveland.  This year, under the direction of Brad Seely, the Browns special teams have been excellent in kick coverage, while opening tremendous lanes in the return game. Also, it is enlightening to see a unit such as the FG team come onto the field and actually give 100-percent effort in attempting to block a kick, which was the case when Robaire Smith knocked down a FG attempt during the Browns 23-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

- Brady Quinn was impressive Saturday night against the Tennessee Titans. Making correct reads and throwing the ball well, Quinn displayed every quality head coach Eric Mangini has noted he wants in a QB. While I would like to see Quinn get the ball into the end zone more often, the progress made with the young signal caller should warrant the opportunity to start for this team this season.

- Enough with the questions about Quinn's arm strength; this young QB has more than enough arm strength to play at this level. There is little question that Quinn has the ability to get the team in the correct offensive set when getting to the line. But, what may impress more is the manner which he appears to elevate his game on the playing field. In practice sessions, you rarely see the QB as accurate as he has been in actual game situations throughout the pre-season.

- Derek Anderson has been pretty good this summer, but Quinn has been better in the eyes of this observer at moving the chains, which keeps the defense off the field. It's called game management, a critical criteria of Mangini.

- Anderson didn't simply fall to the wayside against the Titans or in training camp, though. Anderson himself was again decisive and solid in running the offense and he got away with a couple of tosses which could have been disastrous. During training camp and into the pre-season games, Anderson has shown he can play at this level. Coming off the unexpected, early success Anderson tasted in the 2007 season, he has never been able to regain that magical run. In a league where capable QB's are at a premium, Anderson could and should be under center somewhere in this league.

- KR/WR Josh Cribbs has simply wanted an opportunity to play. In the past, the team was concerned about his workload; this has all changed with the addition of Mangini in Cleveland. Now, Cribbs is getting a legitimate shot at the WR position and has been making the most of it. Arguably, Cribbs could line-up as the number-two receiver in the Browns offense -- and yes, he has been that good.

- Rookie RB James Davis is a solid complimentary player, not only for this offensive scheme, but in spelling veteran Jamal Lewis. Looking like a player far beyond his rookie status, Davis' vision and athletic ability place him firmly as the second back on this roster, which should enable the rookie to get the opportunity to contribute in the 2009 season.

- An effective screen pass in Cleveland? At least four effective screen passes, in one game, for the Browns? Amazing what solid coaching and execution can provide a team. The Browns ran the screens well against a solid, veteran Tennessee defense. 

- In quickly reviewing portions of the game for this notes column, I was surprised how close the offense was to breaking a handful of plays in the running game. On separate occasions, LG Eric Steinbach sealed the end, while Mack shielded the defensive tackle; the problem was the RB (Jamal Lewis) did not hit the hole. On another occasion, Davis was too quick and danced in the hole, rather than waiting on a block which would have sprung him between RG and RT.

- Rookie center Alex Mack has shown significant progress over the past two weeks. Coming off nearly two weeks  of practice sessions and one pre-season game where he looked rather mediocre, Mack has stepped up his game and is beginning to look like the prospect this organization expected when selecting him in the first round of the draft. Against the Titans, Mack was able to get to the second line of defense, while keeping the interior power of the Tennessee defense at bay.

- After getting off to a slow start in camp, Steinbach's play on game day has elevated over the past two weeks and he looks like the Steinbach of 2007, rather than the injured and beaten down player of 2008.

- I have yet to see RG Floyd Womack practice or play poorly this summer. Let's remember, Womack is not an All-Pro; he is a grinder and will come to work everyday. 

- After making a few errors resulting in penalties a week ago, starting RT John St. Clair had a much more solid performance against a much better Tennessee defensive unit. As with most of the offensive lineman, St. Clair has been solid in pass protection and needs to gear-up his efforts in the run game.

- Interestingly, as the play at the center position improves, so does the overall performance of the interior of the Browns offensive line. The pass blocking by the starting unit has been solid and getting better -- but I remain concerned about the lack of push in the run game. Presently, it appears the passing game is going to be the catalyst in opening up the run. The offensive line will continue to gain continuity as a unit and with each passing week we are seeing progress being made.

- The backup offensive line fared better than in the past two weeks. With Ryan Tucker sitting out the game, newcomers Corey Hilliard and Pat Murray gained playing time, but the best of the backups along the line was C/G Dustin Fry. Depending on how the coaching staff perceives the quality and depth along the line, Fry may have quietly played his way into roster spot contention due to his workmanlike efforts and progress.

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