An inside look at the Jets opponent

JC Publisher Dan Leberfeld got the inside word on the Cleveland Browns during this conversation with Browns insider Barry McBride.

1)How is Charlie Frye progressing, and how is he doing physically?

Frye is a tough kid, but had to leave last week's game for one play with a concussion. He has not progressed as much as the Browns would hope, and has a low quarterback rating (six touchdowns and ten interceptions). While some have pointed fingers at the porous offensive line and weak play-calling from Maurice Carthon, Frye's biggest weakness right now appears to be his decision-making. There were concerns about his arm strength early in the season which have largely been laid to rest, but Frye will still hold onto the ball too long in his anticipation of being able to make a play. His play needs to improve in the next ten games, or he have a lot more competition next year.

2)Frye is taking quite a beating. Where are most of the leaks coming from?

They have come from all over, but the most fingers have been pointed at left guard Joe Andruzzi, whose play has deteriorated along with his knees this year. Andruzzi is a hard-working veteran, but hasn't done well in pass protection this season. One of Frye's biggest problems is that too much pressure is being applied to the passing game because the Browns have not been able to run when teams stack the line. It is hard to tell how much different the Browns season would have been if LeCharles Bentley had been able to play. Hank Fraley has been an adequate replacement, but having Bentley available might have been able to protect Andruzzi and RG Cosey Coleman somewhat.

The Browns may have a real adventure this weekend, though, as steadfast RT Ryan Tucker may miss the game. He has been down for the count with an unidentified illness, and the Jets may get to face second-year RT Kelly Butler.

3)The Browns offense is going to centered around Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow for now and many years to come. How are they playing, and how good do you think they can be?

The jury is out on Braylon Edwards. The Browns wide receiver started strong and had two straight 100 yard games, but was shut down last week by Champ Bailey. Edwards may have been limited by simply not being used properly by Carthon. It's also important to remember that Edwards had an ACL last season and it was a huge surprise when he was able to line up at all prior to the bye. Often players with ACL injuries are slowed the next season and don't return to full speed until the year after. 2007 will be the year when Edwards will show whether or not he justified the third pick in the draft.

Winslow, meanwhile, has been the bright spot of the Browns anemic offense, and is establishing himself as an elite tight end now that he's finally able to play. From watching Winslow in games and practice, it's clear that he's a very special athlete. Whether running over defensive backs or making acrobatic catches, Winslow is a one-man highlight reel held back only by his supporting cast.

4)What was the problem with Maurice Carthon as coordinator, and was he fired, or did he re-sign?

Technically, Carthon resigned. He had a number of faults, or at least they were faults as things played out in Cleveland. He is very much an old-school coach, very critical of players and apparently dismissive of ideas from both players and other coaches. Players simply got tired of his act and many were delighted when he left.

He was also a guy known for odd play-calling, which usually didn't work, such as a fullback option pass on third-and-one in the red zone earlier this season. Probably the strangest was a propensity for removing the team's best player, Kellen Winslow, Jr, in third down situations. It was a head-scratching tendency which caused fans to turn against Carthon with a vengeance.

The bottom line, however, is that a Browns offense with some good skill players finished last in the league in points scored during 2005 and was among the worst again in 2006. Whatever his other faults, Carthon's offense simply didn't produce, and Crennel was losing the locker room by sticking by him.

5)How big a loss is Gary Baxter, and can you size up the cornerback position without him?

Baxter went from being a defensive back in Baltimore who never missed games to missing all but a handful after signing a huge contract in Cleveland. Two separate instances of torn pectoral muscles in Cleveland kept us from really being able to judge him effectively. When in the lineup, Baxter was often hurting and not the same player he was in Baltimore.

The Browns went into this season feeling that they were deep at corner with Baxter, McCutcheon, and Bodden. Now, only one of them is left and Bodden hasn't been playing due to injury of late. The Browns had to go out and rustle around in the bargain bin for free agents after the season started, and the result has been able what one would expect. The good news is that the Browns have what appears to be a very good coach in Mel Tucker working with these players, and Daven Holly has turned into a serviceable corner, which is an improvement from where he started.

As I mentioned earlier, when Bodden is out, the Browns are really in bad shape. They tend to give receivers so much cushion that even Jake Plummer was able to pick them apart last Sunday.

6)Ted Washington and Willie McGinest were added to improve the Front Seven. How has that worked out?

Not as well as hoped. Both have been solid veteran presences, and Washington improved the position over last year's disaster at nose tackle, Jason Fisk. McGinest has made some plays, but hasn't made the huge impact some may have hoped for. The biggest value of his presence, long term, may be how rookie Kamerion Wimbley learns from him. McGinest has taken the rookie under his wing and, if locker room quotes are to be believed, Wimbley has taken full advantage of the veteran's mentoring.

7)How is Kamerion Wimbley progressing in his acclimation to 3-4 outside linebacker?

He's doing extremely well, even in pass coverage, which is a relief to those worried about how well he would transition from playing on the line in college. He's very quick to the passer, and has been the first threatening pass rusher here in Cleveland since Jamir Miller. He needs help up front to keep blockers off him, but will probably not get that until next season. He's a high-potential player, and a good citizen off the field. The Browns are very happy with the pick to date.


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