An Updated Look at the Browns' Receiver Situation

There is no doubt that WR Braylon Edwards was a solid wide receiver. He probably won't ever reproduce the type of season he had in 2007 with the Browns, but you don't have that type of season unless you're capable of being one of the league's top receivers. Unfortunately, Edwards suffered from a severe case of the dropsies in 2008, causing him to get under the skin of almost every Browns fan. He might have felt unappreciated, but the way he conducted himself on and off the field grew tiresome.

After Mangini decided to trade TE Kellen Winslow, he made it clear that he was willing to trade high potential players if they had character flaws. Now, the two players -- Winslow and Edwards -- that many of us once thought could become legendary members of the Browns are elsewhere. The moves have paved the way for some new talent though, as we'll take a look at how this affects the team's wide receiver position starting this week.

  • After the first three weeks, I got real sick of Eric Mangini because some of his methods were just like Romeo Crennel's -- don't make adjustments and don't play the rookies. Over a week and a half span though, Mangini has taken action. Derek Anderson is the starting quarterback, some players on the defensive side of the ball have been moved around, and Mohamed Massaquoi was promoted to the starting lineup.
  • Massaquoi's league-leading 148-yard game this past Sunday might have contributed to the removal of Edwards. When you look back at the type of game Massaquoi had, it wasn't one of those "he got lucky" type of performances. His routes were crisp, he was defended very well, and he still came away with tough catches at crunch time. He was aided by the Bengals double-teaming Edwards all of last Sunday, but that is your job as the No. 2 receiver -- take advantage of the (lack of) coverage being thrown at you.
  • Mangini was already quoted as saying that this should finally give Brian Robiskie a crack at some playing time. It's about time too, because for being a second-round pick who was supposed to be the most NFL-ready receiver coming out of the draft, it sure seemed odd to have him exclusively on special teams or the inactive list. Robiskie can be a good possession receiver, although we haven't had much of a look to see what his chemistry with Anderson is like.
  • Mike Furrey doubled up and played both offense and defense last week, something I think we'll be seeing more of as the season progresses. Overall, Furrey's regular season production has been somewhat of a letdown. There have been multiple instances in which he has not been getting to the open area as quickly as he should be in third down situations. I think it's time for Furrey to step back to the fourth-receiver role, where he can still contribute in four-receiver sets and select third-down situations.
  • I think Eric Mangini got it right by giving Joshua Cribbs sort of a "demotion" at receiver. I still feel that many of his struggles over the first few weeks had to do with improper utilization of his strengths, and if that's the case, we might as well go back to using him "here and there". That means that Cribbs doesn't have an assigned position on the depth chart. He might not be in for five straight plays, but then for two straight plays he might come in once as the No. 2 receiver and the other time as the No. 3 receiver. Cribbs is supposed to keep the defense guessing -- leave the tough routes over the middle of the field to the other guys.
  • That leaves one other receiver -- the newly acquired Chansi Stuckey. With Anderson under center, I like the fact that Stuckey was at one point Brett Favre's favorite receiver with the Jets. Granted, the comparisons between Anderson and Favre might seem like a stretch, but it tells me that he didn't shy away from rockets being thrown his direction. Jets fans will miss him too, and I don't imagine it being a piece of cake to fall into the good graces of the New York faithful. Considering the lack of playing time Robiskie has received this season, Stuckey might be the team's No. 2 receiver this Sunday. Either way, by the end of the year, Stuckey and Robiskie will probably be battling it out for the No. 2 and No. 3 receiver positions.

Don't get the wrong idea -- the Browns aren't a "better team" without Edwards. Looking at the bright side of things though, this should improve the development side of the team for the remainder of the 2009 campaign. We have three young receivers -- Massaquoi, Robiskie, and Stuckey -- who could one day combine to be a solid receiving corp. With Anderson's willingness to take shots down the field, I'm more confident that each of the three of them will receive a fair opportunity to prove their worth in the NFL.

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