The Answer Man Breaks Down The Browns

<b>JW: </b>Sorry to interrupt.<br><br><b>Answer Man: </b>No, come on in. I'm just watching a little tape. Where've you been? <br><br><br><b>JW: </b>Well, I wanted to ask you the same question. I guess we just missed some connections here. Are you as gloomy as others around here?<br><br><b>AM: </b>No. What do you mean?

JW: I was just talking with Hines Ward. Wow, he's really down about being 2-2 and giving games away.

AM: You'll have that with true competitors. But I take it you want to talk about the Cleve Brownies. Or do you want to hang your head over your own failures?

JW: My failures? Whatever. What strikes you about the Browns?

AM: Overall, probably just how their defense has fallen off. But I guess when you lose three linebackers that'll happen. These new guys aren't as physical against the run as they have been in the past.

JW: Is that what happened against Jamal Lewis?

AM: Against Jamal Lewis, they really didn't play all that bad. He had three big plays and there were some missed tackles, but overall the linebacking crew is just not physical. They're more finesse and athletic.

JW: Which one typifies that the most?

AM: The guy with the most finesse is probably Kevin Bentley. They're all about the same, athletically. You can run on all three, so I would imagine you can attack downhill on these guys. The defensive line hasn't stepped up, but that's more a case of good players not producing.

JW: Courtney Brown is third on their line in tackles and has two sacks. Is he an unqualified bust yet?

AM: I wouldn't go that far. You see flashes, but he never puts it all together and comes up with plays.

JW: He had microfracture surgery on his knee last winter. Has that been the problem?

AM: He didn't make many plays when he was healthy. I think he's 100 percent now, but it's hard to tell. I've never been overly impressed with the guy in the first place.

JW: What about the other high pick, Gerard Warren? He has even fewer tackles than Brown and no sacks.

AM: Warren flashes and when he wants to play, he'll play. Kenard Lang is OK but he's not stout against the run, and Orpheus Roye flashes. Put them all together and it's a group that has potential but is not playing well.

JW: Wouldn't you think they'll want to play this week, particularly Brown and Warren?

AM: With guys who flash on and off, you just don't know when they'll want to play. You'd think a No. l guy would want to do it all the time, but I guess that's why sports psychology has become such a big deal.

JW: Tell me about their secondary.

AM: Daylon McCutcheon is their cover guy and Anthony Henry is more physical and less of a cover guy. Robert Griffith, I think his play is starting to drop off. He's not showing up like he used to, so I think he's on the decline. Earl Little is aggressive but will be exposed when you put him in coverage. I'd say the back seven of their defense might be their weakest link, except for the offensive line.

JW: You're leaving the defensive line out of that assessment?

AM: Their D-line has some players, but the rest of their defense doesn't excite me.

JW: OK. What about that offensive line? It stunk last year and now has a rookie and some injuries. Is it hideous now?

AM: It's not hideous. It's just that the two tackles aren't really tackles. Barry Stokes and Ryan Tucker are better suited to play guard. Their center, Jeff Faine, is young. He will be good and has been pretty solid so far. He has the tools, not he needs to refine his technique. He's better than the guy they had there last year. At guard, Paul Zukauskas and Shaun O'Hara, if the guy stays in front of them they're alright, but any kind of move and they're in trouble.

JW: And William Green?

AM: He's running the same. There's just not that much chance to run. The line's not doing much for him. If they give him a chance, he could hurt you.

JW: Run down their receivers. Which one's their best?

AM: Kevin Johnson is their most consistent but all of them are threats. Quincy Morgan can get down field and catch; Andre Davis is fast and can catch; Dennis Northcutt is a quick inside receiver who can take it to the house. They've got four legitimate receivers who can run and catch.

JW: And the quarterbacks?

AM: Earlier, Kelly Holcomb wasn't all that he's been cracked up to be. He wasn't getting the ball to those receivers. And without the line helping the running game, there really wasn't any way to loosen that up.

JW: That's the problem here, too, isn't it?

AM: Let's go to your next question.

JW: What about Tim Couch?

AM: He didn't look bad. He had the one interception late in the game, but he got them 14 points with nice some strikes early on. He lost his job probably because they needed a spark. For me, as an outsider, I saw it as a case of the first-round pick having been there awhile and being up and down, the new guy wins a couple games, the media's all over him, they remind you that Couch hasn't done anything, so Holcomb was the sexy pick in my opinion. But I'm not there every day. You guys in the media have to understand, the other teams gets paid to make plays, too.

JW: Do you expect a high-scoring game?

AM: You know what? Half of me says yes but the other half says both coaches will want to mix it up and turn it into an old-school Steelers-Browns run game. For some reason, that may be the case.

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