Cleveland Browns Quick Hits

When it's third and long for the Cleveland Browns who's the most likely target? Which linemen are getting the job done in pass protection?'s Ed Thompson has the answers to these questions and more for Browns fans.

Relying On The Rookie: When the Cleveland Browns are faced with a third down and are in need of eight yards or more, Mohamed Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs have been the top targets. Massaquoi has pulled in just five of 13 chances (38.5 percent), but for an average gain of 21.2 yards. Cribbs has grabbed seven out of 12 chances (58.3 percent), but only for six yards per catch. So it's no surprise that the rookie, Massaquoi, has a 30.8 percent first-down conversion rate in those situations versus just 8.3 percent by Cribbs.

Flagged: The Browns have been penalized seven times for pass interference this season putting them in a tie for seventh-most in the league. Cornerbacks Hank Poteat, Brandon McDonald and Eric Wright each have two infractions while linebacker Kamerion Wimbley has been flagged once. The good news is that those penalties only cost Cleveland 74 yards, 19th in the league in pass interference yards. The Baltimore Ravens lead the league in both categories with 12 calls for a total of 243 yards.

Jerome Harrison rushed for 286 yards last week against the Chiefs.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Give Him The Ball: Running back Jerome Harrison has only had eleven chances to carry the ball on third down this year, but he's averaging a whopping 7.2 yards per carry compared to 4.8 on first down and 4.9 on second down. And his longest run on third down has only been a 28-yard romp, so the number isn't badly skewed by one big run. That seems like a huge missed opportunity that the Browns should tap into more often.

Second-And-Long: Cleveland's offense has really struggled on first down this season. Just 41.3 percent of their first-down plays have gained four-plus yards, the second-worst mark in the league.

Top Pick Stands Tall: Rookie center Alex Mack has done a stellar job of protecting the quarterback. He's been charged with a mere one-fourth of a sack over the course of his 14 starts. The team's three other 14-game starters have delivered mixed results. Guard Eric Steinbach has surrendered just two sacks, but tackles John St. Clair and Joe Thomas have each allowed six.

Best And Worst: Linebacker Jason Trusnick--an eight-game starter--has struggled in pass defense.  He's allowed ten out of 11 passes thrown in his direction to be caught for a 90.9 percent burned rate. The third-year linebacker, who has made 34 tackles, forced and recovered a fumble and has two sacks, has also allowed three touchdowns out of the ten completions. Meanwhile, safety Brodney Pool has the best burned rate on the team among defenders who have had more than three passes thrown their way this year. The team's 2005 second-round pick has only allowed ten completions out of 23 attempts for a 43.5 percent burned rate. He's defensed ten passes, putting him in a tie for the team lead with cornerback Eric Wright.

Yards After The Catch: Out of the six players who have caught at least ten passes this season, Jerome Harrison leads the team in average yards after the catch with a 7.5 yards average. Mohamed Massaquoi is second at 4.8 yards followed by Josh Cribbs (4.4), Chansi Stuckey (3.7), Mike Furrey (2.7) and Steve Heiden (1.9).

Befuddling: With Derek Anderson back in at quarterback this week, the Browns would benefit from giving him plenty of two wide receiver or four to five wide receiver sets.  Anderson's completion rate of 42.4 percent with two wide receivers and 44.3 percent with four to five receivers is far better than his 33.3 percent out of a three wide receiver formation. The fifth-year quarterback has struggled so badly in the three-wide set that his passer rating is in the single digits at just 2.8. Back in 2007 when his future looked brighter, Anderson was completing 56.2 percent of his throws and was sporting an 84.3 passer rating out of the three-wide set.

All-Time Trivia: Only two players drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns played in more than 100 games for the team. Tight end Ozzie Newsome is the leader with 190 games between 1978-1990. Running back Mike Pruitt is the other one, logging 115 games during the 1976-1984 seasons. If you figured quarterback Bernie Kosar was going to be one of those two players, you weren't far off the mark. Kosar played in 108 games between 1985-1993 and was a first-round selection--but he was picked up in the 1985 supplemental draft, not the regular NFL draft. 

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A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the network and at

Statistics referenced in this article are provided by STATS, LLC. Copyright 2009 by STATS, LLC. Any use or distribution of such Licensed Materials without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.

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