Behind Enemy Lines: Cleveland Browns

JagNation Editor Charlie Bernstein asks Cleveland Browns team expert Lane Adkins some specific questions about this weeks matchup between Jacksonville and Cleveland. Some of the subjects covered are the suspension of Kellen Winslow, the Browns porous run defense, the emergence of the Cleveland secondary, and the brewing quarterback controversy.

1. How big of a loss is Kellen Winslow in this game? The Browns played awfully well without him two weeks ago against the Giants. Is Steve Heiden more of a regular blocking tight end rather than a pass catching tight end?

Throughout the early stages of the 2008 season, TE Kellen Winslow has been a primary target in a struggling Cleveland offensive scheme. The opposition customarily utilizes a defensive back on Winslow, due to his ability and threat in the passing scheme.

Not much of a blocking presence, the Browns incorporate Steve Heiden and Darnell Dinkins into the scheme to provide a level of acceptable blocking prowess. While Heiden and Dinkins do not provide the down-field type threat Winslow does, both TE's show the ability to play adequately in space, with better than average receiving and route running skill.

2. The Browns have struggled against the run, despite supposedly suring up the defensive line in the offseason with Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams. Is it the scheme, or are they not performing?

Nose tackle Shaun Rogers has played well in the Cleveland 3-4 defensive scheme. In his first season with the Browns, Rogers had adapted and progressed in a defensive system foreign to him, coming from a base 4-3 scheme while a member of the Detroit Lions.

Corey Williams, the other significant off-season acquisition of the Browns has not fared nearly as well. Williams was sidelined during training camp with a shoulder injury and the process of learning and instinctively reacting in the 3-4 defense has been a slow, steady process for the lineman.

While the overall state of the Browns defense has improved, the run defense remains a significant area for concern. Whereas the overall play of the defensive linemen has been relatively inconsistent, the linebackers in the Browns scheme lack the downhill flow to the gap or ball-carrier you would expect in this defensive scheme. In most instances, the linebackers in this scheme play as a strength, in Cleveland the overall linebacking efficiency is lacking.

3. The Cleveland secondary looked terrible in preseason, but they've actually played better of late. Why is that? Is Eric Wright turning into the player they thought he can be?

The Browns defense has done a better job of getting pressure on the opposing QB's, despite the low number of sacks. Pressure creates opportunity, and this Cleveland defense has positioned itself in the defensive backfield to capitalize on the opportunities.

Eric Wright is playing with confidence in this his second season. Viewed as a first round talent by many when selected by Cleveland in the second round a season ago, Wright has displayed continued progress and a keen sense of anticipation.

New defensive coordinator Mel Tucker displays a confidence in his two young starting cornerbacks (Wright and Brandon McDonald). Talented and athletic, the Browns scheme displayed a change from consistent zone to more of a man-on-man, pressing type scheme by the cornerbacks.

Where the Cleveland defense has struggled is in covering the slot receiver in the nickel package. Former Jaguars cornerback Terry Cousin has been a weak link in the scheme and is on the verge of being relegated to a dime cornerback, when safety Mike Adams returns from a hamstring injury.

4. How much pressure is there on Derek Anderson to perform well with a good portion of the fanbase leaning towards Brady Quinn? Where do you stand on the potential QB controversy?

The pressure on QB Derek Anderson is enormous. Anderson has been wildly inconsistent throughout the 2008, which is a troubling sign for the Browns as he displays the same questionable characteristics as a season ago down the home-stretch of the season.

I am of the belief that players do not change, what you see is what you ultimately get. In college Anderson was inconsistent, inaccurate and displayed the tendency to throw the ball into coverage - this has not changed at the professional level.

Due to injury issues and inconsistency at wide receiver, Anderson is not the lone reason for the troubles this Cleveland offense has faced. Anderson has not played well and is leaving far too many opportunities on the field. This, along with obvious on-field management and other player type issues, the Browns may be best served to find out if they have a QB in-house that can be counted on as a fixture. Brady Quinn, in is second season has been relegated to being Anderson's under-study and many close to the Browns organization as well as I believe a change could be beneficial for this struggling team.

5. Why isn't Jerome Harrison used more? The guy seems to have legit speed and athleticism, and he's performed in his limited opportunities.

RB Jerome Harrison has done well in the limited opportunities of note. Throughout his time in Cleveland, Harrison has been pegged as a player that needed to become focused and improved in the blocking aspects of the position, as well as improving as an asset on special teams.

In this his third-season, Harrison has been a constant presence on special teams and has lined-up in the backfield. With Jamal Lewis being the primary back for the Browns, along with talented Jason Wright in the backfield, Harrison has not been viewed as a player of significance, despite his production on given opportunities.

6. The Browns are 2-4, certainly a disappointing start, but they are far from out of it in the wildcard chase with a seemingly watered down AFC. What is the mood of the town? Is there confidence they can right the ship and make a run toward the playoffs?

The Browns fanbase is in disbelief, bordering on anger toward the entire organization as a whole. Head coach Romeo Crennel has been called-out by fans and some in the media due to his questionable game-time decision making ability, as well as enabling the issue at the QB and overall offense inefficiency to materialize.

At 2-4, the Browns are far from out of the race in what has become a relatively wide-open AFC, but the anticipation of the Browns being much in the race has become widely believed as a long-shot.

As injuries at key positions helped fuel the Browns poor start, it is the inconsistency and prolonged poor play within the offensive scheme and specifically at the QB spot which has not only engaged Browns fans, but enraged them.


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