Behind Enemy Lines: The Browns

We go Behind Enemy Lines with our colleague in Cleveland, Lane Adkins, who answers burning questions about Corey Williams, Eric Mangini, the Browns' quarterbacking situation and more.

How about that blockbuster trade, in which the Packers gave the Browns Corey Williams in exchange for a second-round pick? The Packers used that draft pick on a quarterback who can't throw (Brian Brohm). Certainly, that trade is working better for the Browns ... right?

Lane: In what was a somewhat high-profile move for the Browns, DE Corey Williams has not had the type of success expected when being obtained by the team.

Suffering with a shoulder injury a season ago and being incorporated into a new defensive scheme (3-4) in Cleveland, Williams made little impact a season ago. Provided a new start and a return to health, the 2009 season has been one of consistency for the defensive lineman, though he has not made the impact the organization has hoped.

A lot of Packers fans are unhappy with the direction of the team. They're the youngest team in the NFL for seemingly the millionth year in a row, and they have no offensive line. Are Browns fans equally unhappy? On the heels of trading back-back-back on draft weekend, dealing Braylon Edwards seems to signal that this is a full-blown rebuilding project. Is the Kokinis-Mangini regime onto something, anything?

Lane: The 2009 season for the Cleveland Browns is one of building the foundation of a roster that has struggled for the past decade. Head coach Eric Mangini has been steadfast in his process to obtain and develop players, starting with players of depth and special teams ability.

In trading tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. and wide receiver Braylon Edwards, the organization dealt their top playmaking targets. These trades cleared some malcontent-type personalities, which clash with the highly discipline system Mangini has incorporated in Cleveland.

Unfortunately, the Browns lack playmakers and overall talent on the offensive side of the ball. Coupled with the inability of the Cleveland offense to execute from play to play, the loss of this potential top-tier talent only provided the Browns offense to regress.

A lot of fans here have crossed Mike McCarthy off their Christmas card list. But from the outside looking in, McCarthy seems like Vince Lombardi in comparison to Eric Mangini. Then again, perhaps it's unfair to have such an outside-looking-in perspective on a guy on his first year on the job. I know your time is limited, but can you tell my readers about the Man-genius?


Eric Mangini
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Lane: Eric Mangini's time in Cleveland has been filled with skepticism from all angles of the media and little positive production coming from the team inherited.

Known as an X's and O's type, Mangini's biggest obstacle has been and will continue to be in getting this locker room to buy into his plan. The coach has this team practicing and playing hard, but the overall lack of quality and depth remains an issue the organization can only help to address in the offseason.

This Browns team struggles in most facets of the game. Despite the ability to play reasonably well on the defensive side of the ball in spurts, the lack of talent is striking.

Offensively, this Cleveland team may be the worst in the league. Outside of offensive linemen Joe Thomas, Eric Steinbach and rookie center Alex Mack, the remainder of the unit is either inexperienced, inconsistent or base-line average talent.

The Packers have allowed 25 sacks this season. Are the Browns equipped to handle that gigantic weakness, and if so, who should the Packers fear?

Lane: Under the direction of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the Browns will blitz often, creating opportunities for the Green Bay passing game.

Outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley has played well and his pass rushing presence has improved throughout the early portion of the season. Coming off a bout with the flu, Wimbley is expected to line-up on Sunday, with the jury out on whether he is going to be 100 percent.

Outside of Wimbley, nose tackle Shaun Rogers, another Brown suffering from the flu, is a dynamic player and presence. One of the top-three interior defensive linemen in the game, Rogers has the abiliity to create pressure on any given play and will be a load for the interior of the Packers' offensive line.

As GMs like to say, if you have two quarterbacks, you don't have any. What's the latest between Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn, who have a combined three touchdowns and nine interceptions? Anderson really looked like something a couple years ago, when the Browns just missed the playoffs. Quinn was supposed to be a savior. Now, they're scuffling along at about 50 percent accuracy.

Lane: Coming out of training camp, QB Brady Quinn was selected by Mangini to be the starter. In what was deemed a close competition by the coach, Quinn in the eyes of all watching the sessions performed at a higher rate.

While many of the issues with the Browns' offense in the first three games of the season were directed at the play of Quinn — this Cleveland offensive scheme displayed little confidence in the quarterback, as the play-calling has been suspect.

At the half of the Browns' third game of the season, Quinn was benched in favor of Derek Anderson and the results have been poor. Despite leading the Browns to a 6-3 victory in Buffalo, Anderson has been erratic and inconsistent at times. In the three games Anderson has started (1-2), the Cleveland offense displayed some signs of improvement early, only to regress over the past two games.

Quinn was more versed to check-down quickly into the short to intermediate passing game, whereas Anderson has struggled to find a rhythm and touch in this aspect of the offense.

While Anderson provides this offense a much greater presence to attack the field vertically, the lack of experience on the flanks leave the Browns shooting blanks.

Anderson is playing in hopes of adding some stability and auditioning for the 2010 season, his last year of a three-year, $24 million deal inked following the 2007 season.

As for Quinn, he appears glued to the bench and is only expected to see action if Anderson simply is terrible or injured.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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