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Analyzing the Browns' 2006-2007 Offensive Line

Game by Game Statistics
Week Sacks Rush Yds
1 vs NO 5 85 (3.9)
2 at CIN 0 57 (2.9)
3 vs BAL 7 38 (2.0)
4 at OAK 2 104 (3.0)
5 at CAR 2 91 (4.0)
6 BYE - -
7 vs DEN 5 34 (2.6)
8 vs NYJ 3 147 (3.8)
9 at SD 5 89 (3.2)
10 at ATL 5 91 (3.4)
11 vs PIT 5 99 (3.4)
12 vs CIN 4 51 (3.6)
13 vs KC 1 150 (5.2)
14 at PIT 0 18 (1.6)
15 at BAL 5 68 (4.3)
16 vs TB 3 91 (4.6)
17 at HOU 1 127 (4.5)

07-08 Salary Figures

Player 07-08 Salary
Ryan Tucker $2,550,000
Joe Andruzzi $1,500,000
LeCharles Bentley Unknown
Kevin Shaffer Unknown
Kelly Butler $510,000
Hank Fraley Free Agent
Lennie Friedman Free Agent
Cosey Coleman Free Agent
Nat Dorsey Free Agent

Next Year's Depth Chart

07-08 Pokorny Projection
This is what I "hope" the Browns starting offensive line situation would look like next season. Granted, this stuff is always easier said than done.

* LT - JOE THOMAS: A big left tackle out of Wisconsin, Thomas would have to be drafted by the Browns with the third or fourth overall pick in the draft. He has been highly rated among all draft experts and is considered the best offensive lineman in the draft.
* LG - ERIC STEINBACH: This would be the Browns "LeCharles Bentley equivalent" signing for this season if it were to happen. We have the money for a big-time lineman, and if the Bengals can't afford to keep him, the Browns should jump all over him.
* C - LECHARLES BENTLEY: Bentley plays the major role of my "hope" factor. The chances of him being ready for this season are not very good, but we caught breaks with Winslow and Edwards this past season, so you never know.
* RG - RYAN TUCKER: Tackle may be behind him now, but he should be able to make a fair adjustment to the guard position. I would have said Isaac Sowells here, but it seems like the Browns are grooming him as a future tackle instead.
* RT - KEVIN SHAFFER: Shaffer would be making the move to the other side of the line, where things are a little easier than left tackle.

Hank Fraley would be the primary backup for the center and guard positions, while Kelly Butler and Isaac Sowells could handle the backup tackle positions. Then, we can choose another guy or two like Lennie Friedman after that to fill the other backup roles.

Above all positions, I believe that the quandary of our offensive line contributed to the downfall of the 2007-2008 Cleveland Browns. I'm sure many of you felt the same way, because 54% of you voted to have me review the offensive line before any other offensive position. Offenses have two ways that they can strike: passing the ball, and running the ball. A good quarterback can contribute to a passing game, but having confidence in the pocket is a primary key to success. Although Peyton Manning is one of a kind, would he be as effective if he were playing behind a bunch of scrubs? In terms of the running game, just about anyone can succeed at the position these days if they are placed in the right situation. Take a look at the Denver Broncos, who were able to put third-string running backs in games as starters for the heck of it, because they knew they could do well.

Regrettably for the Browns, we really couldn't sustain a passing game or a running game, and that had a lot to do with the offensive line. We've heard the LeCharles Bentley story so many times, but it's worth taking a little flashback of what our line was intended to be: LT Kevin Shaffer, LG Cosey Coleman, C LeCharles Bentley, RG Joseph Andruzzi, RT Ryan Tucker. Prior to the season, I truly believed that we had catapulted ourselves to having one of the better units in the AFC. We added a veteran left tackle from the Atlanta Falcons and a Pro Bowl center that was the most coveted person in free agency. Turn the clock to Week 17, and here is what we had starting instead: LT Kevin Shaffer, LG Rob Smith, C Hank Fraley, RG Lennie Friedman, RT Nat Dorsey. However, don't automatically think that injuries hindered our line. Bentley was a heartbreaker, but people like Andruzzi, Coleman, and Tucker never stepped their games up.

With that said, I'm going to rank the offensive line for this season from best to worst (although, I should note that being near the top doesn't necessarily mean they did "good" when you account for how atrocious we were on game day).

1. KEVIN SHAFFER - Offensive Tackle

Notes: Shaffer was not a great left tackle by any stretch of the imagination, but I believe he showed that he would be a better-than-average tackle if the rest of our lineman had at least been of average quality. Considering that the left tackle position is typically harder to play and we had more issues at the right tackle position, Shaffer didn't do too bad of a job. He was our only lineman to remain healthy for the entire season, and durability will be key next season.

Next Season: I would really like for Shaffer to move to right tackle, which would allow the Browns to take a stab at Joe Thomas in the draft. It would seem like a win-win situation, and Shaffer won't have to play as difficult a position.

2. HANK FRALEY - Center

Notes: Fraley ended up being the byproduct of the situation, but he stepped in without a whole heck of a lot of time to prepare for the Browns system and played well. Fraley was a long-time veteran that the Philadelphia Eagles were no longer going to start. Our weaknesses weren't in the middle of the line with Fraley in the game, they were at the guard positions along with inconsistent play at one of the tackle positions. However, Fraley wasn't able to come close to matching what Bentley would've been able to do, which was supposed to be drawing a double team and giving a firm push on every play.

Next Season: Fraley was going to be a second-stringer with the Eagles before coming to Cleveland, but his play this season could draw interest from teams around the league looking for competition at their center position. If Bentley is back and healthy, we don't necessarily need Fraley, but I would love to keep him to be what Bob Hallen was supposed to be last season.

3. KELLY BUTLER - Offensive Tackle

Notes: If there was one player that may have truly benefited from our offensive line debacle this season, it was Butler. After starting a season's worth of games for the Detroit Lions the year before, Butler was forced to fill in for Ryan Tucker, who had all of those awkward "personal" issues. For being a sixth-round draft pick in 2004 that hadn't had enough of a reputation in the league, he was able to hold his own when given the opportunity.

Next Season: There were definitely a couple of games in which he got burnt, but if the Browns choose not to acquire a new tackle next season, keeping Shaffer on one side and having Butler on the other could be a salvageable situation of the rest of the line is upgraded. Preferably, I would like Butler to be our primary backup at the tackle position, much like I hope Fraley would be for center and guard. The Brown have already signed him to a two-year contract extension.

4. COSEY COLEMAN - Offensive Guard

Notes: Running between the tackles was an obvious pain this season, and Coleman certainly contributed to that. The most frustrating aspect about him seemed to be the fact that he would have numerous holding penalties called on him throughout a season. Coleman is another one of those players that could do "ok" with help around him, but that isn't the type of player the Browns need next season.

Next Season: Coleman is a free agent, so the Browns really don't have a legitimate reason to fork over some money to him. I would rather have the Browns ignore Coleman and exclusively pursue Eric Steinbach of the Bengals as much as possible. Coleman did state that he would not mind returning to the Browns, but if he is a starter with us next season, then we didn't try hard enough to improve.

5. RYAN TUCKER - Offensive Tackle

Notes: Overall, it was not a very good season for the veteran offensive tackle. I really do not want to necessarily "diss" Tucker, because I can't speak for what he was going through personally during the season, and how it affected him. He was beaten a fair amount of times this season though, and even if he is "straight" next season, he may be too worn down to be a starter anymore.

Next Season: Tucker has told Romeo Crennel that he wants to return to the Browns next season. Unfortunately, that's about the third player already that has stated he would like to return to our team next season...ugh. Still, Tucker is under contract, so he is a guy that we can hold on to.

6. LENNIE FRIEDMAN - Offensive Guard

Notes: After being acquired from the Chicago Bears right before the season, Friedman started to receive some playing time after the struggles of Joseph Andruzzi. Friedman didn't have the qualities for a starting guard, but at least he seemed to provide a little more stability than Andruzzi did.

Next Season: Friedman is a free agent, but I wouldn't be surprised if we did not retain him. There wasn't anything extraordinary about him, and we need to be committed to finding new talent via free agency and the draft.

7. JOSEPH ANDRUZZI - Offensive Guard

Notes: Andruzzi actually played in most of our games this season, so you know he had to of been pretty bad to be ranked seventh. Andruzzi was the biggest disappointment for me on our offensive line, but perhaps I had gotten my hopes up too much. There was a reason that the Patriots didn't keep him two years ago, and he really did not have a tremendous season with us last season either.

Next Season: We still have Andruzzi under contract, and Crennel seems to have a soft spot for Andruzzi due to his connection with the Patriots. To be honest though, if there are not any salary cap hits, I would cut him if we were able to sign a big-name in free agency. Out with the old and in with the new.

8. NAT DORSEY - Offensive Tackle

Notes: Dorsey was supposed to be a future tackle for the Browns when we traded Melvin Fowler to the Minnesota Vikings for him, but he's been deplorable since coming to the Browns. He gets beaten around the corner way too often, misses assignments, and just can't seem to coordinate his size to his advantage.

Next Season: Dorsey is a free agent, and I hope that he does not return.

N/A ISAAC SOWELLS - Offensive Guard/Tackle

Notes: We didn't have a whole heck of a lot to go by on what Sowells could do, considering that Crennel only chose to play him in the final game of the season. From what I saw in Week 17 from Sowells, there was no reason that he shouldn't have been given a shot at more playing time sooner in the season. However, since he only played in one game, I had to exempt him from the rankings.

Next Season: If the Browns ditch Andruzzi, a free agent could take Coleman's spot while Sowells takes the other one.

And that's a wrap in terms of our offensive line review for last season and miniature preview for next season. Next up for review will be a defensive position, so get to voting in the poll! By the way, if you'd like to share this article at various Browns message boards and such, please do so...we could always use the free publicity ;)