Berea Report: Defense Anything But Defensive

Fred reports from Berea, where the Browns defense is getting less attention, but giving up a lot of yards...

BEREA—Lost in the turmoil about the quarterback is the Browns defense.

Granted, the offense has scored just one touchdown thus far this season, but the defense hasn't been effective at all.

Other than the first half against the Vikings in the season opener, the defense hasn't been very good. They have given up 34 points twice and 27 once for an average of nearly 32 points a game.

It was thought the defense against the run would be much better this season with the return of a healthy Robaire Smith and Corey Williams to go along with Shaun Rogers. The addition of run stopper Kenyon Coleman and C.J. Mosley, along with up and comer Ahytba Rubin seemed to give the Browns a strong front line.

Yet, the Browns are 30th against the run after three games and are the 29th ranked defense, overall.

The Ravens scored three rushing touchdowns last Sunday without the ball carrier being touched.

"That's nothing that's designed," Eric Mangini said. "It's nothing that's accepted. It's nothing that's expected.

"Being able to play coordinated defense and understand where your help is, how you fit in the running game."

What can be done?

"As a group, we are working week in and week out to get better," Smith said. "It starts up front with us in stopping the run and the playing better as a whole on defense."

No one will say it, but if ever there was a must win situation for the Browns, Sunday might be it.

"At this point, we have to do what we have to do to get a win," D'Qwell Jackson said. "We didn't expect to be 0-3, now.

"We're practicing well and putting in the extra time, but for some reason haven't been able to carry it over to Sunday," he said. "We are looking to carry it to the game."

Jackson said the Browns are not giving up.

"The morale of the team is good," Jackson said. "The team is inspired. We have a group of guys in this locker room who are not hanging their heads because we know we can get it done."

Mangini said one of the problems with the defense is getting off the field on third down.

"We have to improve on third down, both staying on the field (offensively) and getting off the field (defensively)."

Most of the players are saying the same thing.

"We have to go out and practice hard and prepare," Eric Wright said. "We have to each handle our responsibilities."

Mangini said he's been down the road of rebuilding before.

"The thing we always talk about is making progress," he said. "That's what we need to focus on because that is the process to improve upon.

"I've been through this before," he said. "I think the Jets were coming off a 1-15 season when we got there. You have to understand there is going to be bumps in the road. You have to build for the short term and you have to build for the long term. I've been part of that process and understand what has to be done to turn things around."

One at a Time: Mangini said it's important for the players to focus on the task at hand.

"It's always about improving right now," he said. "Not, that the end goal is not to make the playoffs, but it's a cliché for a reason, one game at a time. The best way is to do things right in the moment."

No See, No Hear: Mangini said it's important for the players to stay focused despite the national spotlight on the futility of the Browns thus far this season.

"There's always going to be opinions about things that take place," he said. "The one thing you can control is the things that we do. As far as external things, you can't control those."

Mangini said he's not concerned with players speaking out if they have a problem with what's going on.

"My door is always open for a player to voice a concern and I welcome anybody to do that," he said. "What's going to help us move forward is to contribute positively."

Robo Talk: WR Brian Robiskie has been inactive the past two games and has yet to catch a regular season pass. Mangini says that he has been inactive because he's not able to contribute on special teams.

"With rookies, they develop at different times," Mangini said. "Right now, what he continues to do is carve out that role on special teams and on offense so he can be active on game day."

Robiskie most likely never played special teams at Ohio State and the adjustment has been difficult.

"The best example I can give is Brad Smith, who came in as a quarterback, and over the course of time became a core player as a gunner," Mangini said.

The difference is you usually don't draft a guy in the second-round (36th overall) to be on special teams.

"I just go out and practice hard and improve every day," Robiskie said. "You want to be playing because you love playing football, but the coaches make the decisions."

On Trading K2: Mangini was asked about trading TE Kellen Winslow and the reasoning behind it as the Browns were losing one of their top play makers.

"We felt we had a chance to improve our draft," Mangini said. "(Winslow) was an outstanding player and I'm sure he will do well in Tampa."

The Browns received a second-round choice from Tampa Bay in which they received WR Mohamed Massaquoi and a fifth-round choice in 2010. Massaquoi has two receptions for 31 yards. Meanwhile, Winslow has 15 receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns.

Cautiously Optimistic: Mangini used the term ‘cautiously optimistic' about RB Jamal Lewis returning to practice on Thursday. Lewis (hamstring), OL Floyd Womack (knee) and K Phil Dawson missed practice on Wednesday and were listed as doubtful for the game.

"I would say cautiously optimistic," Mangini said. "With all of those guys it will come down to the end of the week."


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