Are you as puzzled as I am? 2007 = 10-6. 2008 = 4-12 (5 games lost by less than a TD, 1 game lost from Edwards not catching the ball). 2009 = New Regime = TERROR!!!! What is wrong with this team? Why is Mangini getting worse results than RAC? Do you buy in to a roster overhaul? I don’t, and here is why:
R. Smith, S Rogers, healthy C. Williams, CJ Mosley, K. Coleman, upgrade Barton over A. Davis, upgrade D. Bowens over nobody significant; upgrade A Elam over S Jones. Good young corners with better depth. Mike Adams is healthy and adding J. Trusnick round out a more talented overall defense. On offense, you bring in Furrey, get both your QB’s back, add depth with Ratliff, have Womack, Fraley, and Hadnot at RG, upgrade Mack over an aging Fraley, St. Clair comes in projected better than Schaeffer, a healthy RB situation, some solid WR additions, and only really lacking at TE.
The talent is there. This is better than the 4-12 Browns of 2008. So, I will ask again, what is wrong? Is Mangini a bad coach? One would not think that, considering the work he did in New England that translated over to the Jets. Is DaBoll a bad OC? Well, this is debatable, yet we haven’t seen any execution on the field to really be capable of determining that to be the factual case. Is Rob Ryan a bad DC? I don’t think so. He translated the term Defense into the Oakland Raiders, making them a top tier Defense in his 4 year tenure as the DC of Oakland. So, what is it that is happening in Berea that makes this a true second rate team?
Let us look at what is going onto the field. On the offensive line, from left to right:
From LT to C, you have zone blockers. They possess great technique, good speed and agility for their positions, and are extremely smart. At RG and RT, you have power blockers, a lot of penalties on that side of the ball, no real technique, just decent footwork, good leverage, and good strength. So to sum it up, you have two separate styles of blockers manning your offensive line.
At Running Back, you have a washed up power runner and two finesse runners who use their speed and shiftiness to succeed. Lewis is just not the RB that he used to be. He does not hit the hole hard like he did in 2007 and previously with the Rats. His days as a quality NFL Running back are over. Chris Jennings and Jerome Harrison can be successful in this league. But neither fit a power running scheme.
Wide Receivers are currently too youthful. Mo Mass is not a #1 caliber in the NFL. Robiskie is not being used properly. Furrey is not being used enough. Chansi Stuckey has been absent since he arrived. For this group in the current scheme proposition, signing Matt Jones would be the best course of action. Similar to his first two starts, with a #1 WR on the field, Mo Mass can be very effective in 1 on 1 coverage and can stretch the field for Jones, a big speedy target who gets results.
Now to everyone’s favorite debate. The Quarterbacks have been anemic to put it nicely. Yet, there is a huge problem that both are trying to overcome. Neither is put in a position where their strengths are being showcased. Quinn is a West Coast Offense Quarterback. Derek Anderson will succeed only in a true Vertical Passing offensive scheme. During this season, Anderson has been asked to play a ball control game, where he is given short to intermediate routes to work with. Quinn was asked to handle that as well, but mixed with a touch of Vertical Passing. Neither qualifies for that system and has shown that throughout the 09’ season.
So, you may ask, “we have identified the problem, how do we fix it?” This is the most amazing part of the article. Someone who has done nothing more than play High School Football and watch years of the NFL has the answer to the Browns success in an internet article!
It is simple and I will outline it for you now:
Zone Blocking Scheme / West Coast Offense:
LT – Thomas, LG – E Steinbach, C – A Mack, RG – H Fraley, RT – J Runyan
DJ Hackett QB – Quinn MM
RB – Harrison/Jennings
DE – R. Smith, NT – Shaun Rogers, DE – K. Coleman (run)/C. Williams (pass)
T. Laboy J. Trusnick D. Bowens K. Wimbley
E. Wright M. Adams
SS – A. Elam FS – B. Pool
To completely identify the problem for everyone, Coach Mangini has failed in several categories. A) He has not taken the opportunity to scour the FA block and capitalize on the available players that can succeed within the scheme B) He has failed to put players in a position to succeed C) He has failed to scheme around the strengths of the players on the roster D) He has failed to recognize that the style of offense that he would like to run does not fit the make up of the current players at his disposal. The current roster is filled with good Zone Blockers athletic enough to pull and finesse block, as well as reach the second level springing blocks for the faster and shifty backs like Jennings and Harrison. Quinn is a good short to intermediate passer who can flourish in a West Coast Offense. DJ Hackett could be an asset to a WCO and would take pressure off the rookies that are trying to produce more than they can. Runyan is a no brainer for a WCO/Zone blocking scheme. No matter the scheme, Fraley is an upgrade over any RG we have and is an asset on the field to the development of Alex Mack.
On the defensive side of the ball, the inside linebackers MUST recognize the delayed underneath routes and RB Slants that teams are killing them with. Bringing in an athletic LaBoy allows the coach to move some players around to better play within the scheme, get more pressure, stop the run, and become better in passing situations.
In case you wanted to know, coach Mangini’s failure to recognize what he has in his current pool of players and using them to the best of THEIR abilities is what has gotten our Browns off to a 1-7 start! The definition of a great coach is one that can recognize the issue and adjust to correct it. This is not happening in Cleveland with Mangini and his staff. By no means am I stating that the above will make the Browns 8-0 for a 9-7 finish. But I am of the opinion that by scheming to the strengths of the current players and adding some experienced veteran talent to that specific scheme would make the team more competitive and the results would be much easier to swallow! The quicker that anyone within this organization recognizes that we are not the Ravens, Steelers, or the Patriots, the quicker we can get on track to making this franchise a winning one, one that the City of Cleveland can once again be proud of!