Answer Man

Wow, look at you Answer Man, you wear first place well. With all due respect to Cleveland -<p> <b><i>Answer Man:</b></i> Cleveland sucks.<p> <b><i>Me:</b></i> Really? I'm thinking they have a chance, being that it's a huge game for them and it's in their building and they can throw the ball and -<p> <b><i>Answer Man:</b></i> That's all good, but Cleveland sucks. Cleveland sucks. Cleveland sucks.<p>

Me: I get it. Ian Hunter, right?

Answer Man: The one and only. So how can I help you?

Me: Well, since our little talks have being going on, your team has won three in a row, so you do know you need me now.

Answer Man: So you're responsible. Go ahead. Ask your questions, but remember there's somebody always watching you.

Me: Alright, tell me about Tim Couch. Telling off the fans seems to have had a cathartic effect. Has he improved?

Answer Man: What makes you think he's improved?

Me: The stats.

Answer Man: Oh, the stats. Thank God you reporters have stats, otherwise you wouldn't know anything.

Me: So, he's not playing better?

Answer Man: He's a former first-rounder, can throw the ball. He's got a great group of receivers. You can quote me on that.

Me: Wow. Thanks for the insight. Obviously, you're not impressed. Would they use Kelly Holcomb? Should they use Kelly Holcomb?

Answer Man: I wouldn't. I know everyone's making a big deal out of that guy, but he doesn't do much for me. Kind of a weak arm, drops down with his delivery. He's a back-up.

Me: You guys were surprised they didn't spread the field last time. Do you expect it this time?

Answer Man: Actually, they did spread the field. I just thought they would do it more. I thought they would jump into a full game of it. But they did it sporadically. We're ready if they go full throttle this week.

Me: Yeah, Cowher said at his press conference that if it happens, the defense is now ready. What was the adjustment?

Answer Man: Well, if you remember the start of the second half when they came out with four wide receivers and a tight end on the field. Scramble, scramble, scramble and he threw the ball to the sideline. Then he came back the next play and he scrambled, scrambled, scrambled and Jason Gildon ran him out of bounds.

Me: So what made him scramble?

Answer Man: We doubled the people they were going to throw the ball to, instead of leaving James Farrior underneath, one-on-one with Cleeland. We had two people on him and two people on him and two people on him and three people rushing the quarterback. You might remember after New England and Oakland and everyone wondered why we only rushed three. Well, we did the same thing against Cleveland. We just covered better.

Me: Tell me about their offense, starting with the offensive line.

Answer Man: Verba's OK at left tackle. At right tackle, Tucker is,um-

Me: Lousy?

Answer Man: No, a little better than lousy. Their interior's weak.

Me: Which receivers do you like?

Answer Man: Kevin Johnson's still their guy. Morgan's OK. Andre Davis is making plays, but he's a straight-line guy. Dangerous, but he's not going to hurt you coming back to the ball or with curls or things like that. Deep passes and slants. Northcutt's dangerous, but he's small.

Me: Is William Green a bust?

Answer Man: No. Bust is too strong of a word. He's just not the kind of back they envisioned. He's a guy you line up in the I and he pounds away, 4-5 yards at a time, and by the fourth quarter he's getting stronger and you're not. But they want him back there as a single back who's going to break long runs. That's not the kind of back he is. They should've known that when they drafted him. They're trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Me: What about Courtney Brown? He's being labeled a bust. Is he?

Answer Man: He's not getting many opportunities. He's like Jason Gildon in that regard. They're there, they're doing the right things, but they're just not making many plays.

Me: But that's why they get the big bucks, right?

Answer Man: Exactly. But with either of those guys, they could break out and put a nice run of games together at any time. Brown has those tackles inside, which should help. Warren's one of the best in the league and Roye's playing very well. But that's not their problem. The Browns' No. 1 problem is their secondary. Their No 2 problem is linebacker.

Me: Tell me about Earl Holmes?

Answer Man: He's all right between the tackles, but nothing more. The guys on each side of him are speed guys who are susceptible to cut-back runners. As for their secondary, it's beat up, but I do think Anthony Henry can make some plays.

Me: OK. We're set. I'll call it a day. You don't have to cut me off and run this time.

Answer Man: Hey, I'll never turn away good luck.

--Jim Wexell

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