"I love it when a plan comes together" was a terrific line from the A-Team. Midway through the season, the plan did not come together and it is becoming rather obvious that this new plan is starting to look very reminiscent of one from our recent past.
- Horrible offensive line play
- Two enticing quarterbacks losing all value.
- No running game.
- Receivers that cannot catch.
- Poor tackling.
- No gap integrity.
- No discipline within the system.
- General lack of fundamentals.
- Agents vowing to keep their players out of Cleveland.
- Head coach with to much power.
- Players not responding to the head coach.
- Influx of players with old ties to the new regime.
Is this Butch Davis or Eric Mangini? You tell me because other than a different roster, the end of the Davis era is looking identical to the beginning of the Mangini era.
It is time for a new plan, one that can breed success from the very top to the bottom of this historic organization. The Browns need a basic restructure.
The Browns have eleven draft picks next year and will be looking at a top five pick. Next year's draft class is the future of the Cleveland Browns. If you hit on those picks, this team can be competitive for years to come but if you miss, the cycle continues.
The Browns are at a crossroads. They can stay the course for the sake of continuity, which is just as bad as a knee jerk reaction and firing. They can hire a general manager first and allow him to hire the coach. The can hire a proven coach and allow him to make all the decisions. They can go with the triangle of power approach.
It should start with a team president to oversee "ALL" football operations. The president must possess a true vision of what his team will be. It will be necessary for the president to find a general manager and head coach that will share his fundamental philosophy on what this team should be.
3-4 defense versus the 4-3 defense
Aggressive attacking style versus a more patient zone type of defense
Size and Power versus speed
Zone blockers versus Man up maulers
Big physical receivers versus smaller faster receivers
West coast offense versus pro style < strong br />
If you have a set philosophy coming in, then you can hire a coach that is not only willing but also eager to implement this direction. He can fill his staff with coaches that know this system and can run it.
Your general manager is then at a huge advantage. He can seek out and identify players that fit. You do not end up with half of your offensive line being zone blockers and the other half maulers as we see this year. You do not end up with Romeo Crennel's intelligent zone philosophy being implemented with Phil Savage seeking aggressive attacking style players.
This group above all else must be compelled to work together for the common goal of team first. The same philosophy expected of players has to be shared by this triangle of power. While the president should have the final say, ego should never become a factor in making the right decision for the team.
I prefer a mauling man up blocking scheme but Joe Thomas, Eric Steinbach, Alex Mack and Hank Fraley are best suited for a true zone blocking finesse scheme. Add a starter at right tackle with those four and this line suddenly becomes vastly improved. Add a talented guard along with a tackle on the right side and you possess a line that can make a quarterback and the right running back successful. This is a great year to fill offensive line needs. With a loaded free agent class as well as a great looking group of seniors, a quick turnaround for the line is possible.
A solid line and Brady Quinn could become the quarterback many believe he can be. I simply do not believe Brady is a finished product at this point in time but more importantly, I do not want to see a first and second round pick go for nothing. I do not want to see a draft pick spent on a quarterback before the fourth round. Get this team back to where they can support a young quarterback before you begin making the major investments.
The rest of the offense should be worked through trades, free agency and late round draft picks. If you have a great line, it then becomes much easier to evaluate every other position on offense. With a poor line, it does not matter what you have everywhere else.
When it comes to the defense, a true philosophy and scheme has never been needed more. I cannot help but think that this team may be best suited for a return to the 4-3 but more similar to what the Giants have done with the big hybrid linebackers.
If you make the transition to the 4-3, you do have some building blocks. Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers at defensive tackle, Eric Wright at corner and D'Qwell Jackson as middle linebacker are your building blocks. Early and often draft day investments along with some intriguing players already on the roster might just produce a competitive defense.
No one likes change, but when you see no progression and only regression, change is in order. This team is not as far away as it appears from being competitive but Randy Lerner has to get it right this time.