"The Sunday Five" is a loosely-titled piece where I talk about five NFL- or Browns-related topics related to this past week. In today's edition, we take a look at what general manager Tom Heckert had to say a couple of days ago, and the fact that Seneca Wallace will be under center against the Cardinals today.
Heckert met with the media a couple of days ago, and I can't but believe what he says about the team's intentions in the offseason. His focus on defense and not getting big-name free agents last offseason came to fruition. For next offseason, Heckert left no doubt that linebacker D'Qwell Jackson will be back next season. He expressed similar confidence in linebacker Chris Gocong last offseason. The front office seems confident that they can get by with Jackson and Gocong at two of the starting linebacker positions next year, and I don't have a problem with that. There are bigger issues on this team than linebacker, although getting one more young guy in that group wouldn't be a terrible idea.
Heckert noted that he hasn't talked much with Phil Dawson, but he believes that Dawson is enjoying his time in Cleveland more so than he did last year. No one on this team has been a part of the Browns' constant losing seasons more than Dawson, and losing long snapper Ryan Pontbriand and punter Reggie Hodges probably hasn't made this a heartwarming season. He has had a career year though and is making a good chunk of change as the franchise player, so I think the team will try to re-sign him in the offseason.
Heckert expressed disappointment in both of his top running backs, Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty, but remains confident that both can rebound. The question of whether Hillis will be re-signed or not will be made in the offseason:
[On if Hillis will be back] "It's unfortunate he has been nicked up a little bit," Heckert said. "That's another one we'll have to decide once the season's over. Obviously, he can play. We know that. He's done it. He did it last year. That's not the issue. It's just what we decide what direction we want to go."
[On if Hardesty has shown what he was like in college this year] "No, I haven't seen it this year," he said. "It's hard to tell whether it's from the old injury or the new stuff. I think he's done a good job, but obviously we don't have to make a decision on that. I do think he'll be better next year, especially physically.
Heckert said the a priority this offseason is to get playmakers, whether that be via the draft or free agency. He talked about the overall issues the team has had at running back and receiver:
"The running game obviously was a situation this year more because of injury," Heckert said. "We didn't have a lot of healthy running backs. Our leading rusher until last week was a guy off another team's practice squad.
"(At wide receiver), obviously the (Brian Robiskie) thing, we thought he'd come in and help us and for whatever reason that didn't occur. (Mohamed Massquoi's) been hurt so he hasn't been as productive as we expected. Other than that, we didn't have a lot of numbers there. We think (Greg Little's) a good player. I know he's had some drops. He hadn't played football a long time. That's not an excuse. He's got to catch the football. From what we saw in college, that wasn't an issue and I don't think that will be an issue going forward.
I think we're going to see Seneca Wallace put on the best quarterback performance by a member of the Browns this season against the Cardinals, but I wouldn't say it is indicative of McCoy. Remember, barring a couple of bad decisions the past few weeks, McCoy has moved the ball much better on offense and has had a couple of tough scrambles. The offense has slowly come around but has stalled due to dropped passes. That's not McCoy's fault. Wallace knows this offensive system well and will make the offense look a little different than McCoy does. We have to keep in mind that Wallace is good for some spot starts, but he is not our long term answer. I will love him if he does well, but I'm not going to call for him as the future of this team or anything like that.