After gushing last week so much over the work of local sportswriter Terry Pluto, I'm surprised that BringBackKosar hasn't stated that I've found a new man-crush. Or, maybe it'll be more appropriate after I praise Pluto's work from June 1, in which he included some interesting statistics regarding how often some of our defenders saw action on the field.
1. Leigh Bodden (98%): This was almost a wake-up call, or a slap-in-the-face. Maybe it's just me, but I didn't think about the fact that Bodden was actually on the field for the majority of our plays. Heck, in a casual conversation, if a Detroit fan would've asked me about Bodden, I might have mistakenly said that he missed some games the past couple of years due to injuries. While he missed three games in 2005 and seven games in 2007, he didn't miss a single game last season.
What does all of that mean in regard to this year's defense? Not a whole lot that we didn't already know, but still worth noting. Pluto also debunked the rumor that the Browns threw Bodden into the Shaun Rogers deal for nothing.
"Detroit wanted Leigh from the beginning when we started talking about Shaun (Rogers)," Savage said. "It was always Bodden and a pick, the question being what round. Leigh was in virtually every trade discussion with the Lions. He was a key piece for them."
With Bodden gone, Pluto also stated that the Browns are already leaning towards running a Cover-2 defense this season. If you're unfamiliar with defensive schemes, the Cover-2 approach focuses on keeping everything in front of you in the passing game to prevent teams from hitting the big play. That means that safeties Brodney Pool and Sean Jones would play center field towards the left and right sidelines, while it'd be the job of young cornerbacks Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald to make the sure-tackles on quick passes.
The drawback to the Cover-2 is that the middle of the field is typically more open, considering the safeties are providing support deep for the cornerbacks. A Tampa-2 defense -- which requires more savvy players -- would remove the issue of patterns over the middle by dropping a linebacker back there. Until the Browns actually prove that our front seven is good enough to stop the run though, we can't even consider a Tampa-2 type of approach.
2. Kamerion Wimbley (99%): Yikes...just think about that. 99 out of 100 times, Wimbley was on the field? Remember, this is a guy whose primary job was often to try and rush the passer. We're paying him a lot of money to do that, so some might argue that there's no sense in worrying about whether or not he gets tired. That's not the issue though -- we saw how effective the New York Giants pass rushers were when they worked in a deep rotation. After considering this, perhaps signing a player like a Rosevelt Colvin should be a little higher on our priority list.
3. Antwan Peek (54%): This figure wasn't surprising in the least; in fact, it seemed a little high considering all the time he missed. As Pluto noted, although Peek played in 14 games, he never could give his best effort on gameday. The few times he did receive playing time, I saw a lot of positives -- a reason why I'm really hoping he, of all our linebackers, remains healthy this season.
4. Willie McGinest (62%): This is clearly a mistake, especially for a player that's nearing the end of his career. McGinest was ripped by us many times last season for being in position towards the end of games to tackle a running back in the open field, only not to come through. If we have McGinest on the field 62% of the time again this season, the left side of our defense will be attacked by opposing running backs at a concerning rate.
5. Robaire Smith (81%): The more I think about it, the more I appreciate Smith's contribution to our defensive line last season. Pluto wisely pointed out that no other Browns defensive lineman even reached 50%. Smith gutted the season out, but was clearly overworked. With the much-needed depth we added in the offseason, lowering Smith's percentage will hopefully increase his effectiveness.
6. Shaun Smith (44%): The other Smith will be our go-to-guy for depth this season, and getting him 44% of the playing time last season was critical. He's much further along in terms of experience than we expected him to be prior to last season starting. Instead of going into this year with a question mark in case either Shaun Rogers or Corey Williams go down, there is less need to panic.
Pluto adds that the fifth defensive lineman is shaping up to be a battle between Chase Pittman, Louis Leonard, Melila Purcell and rookie Ahtyba Rubin. That'll be something we'll have to zone in on during training camp, because at this point, I don't think we've seen enough from any of them to decide on a clear favorite. For the sake of a guess though, I'd go with Leonard, considering we grabbed him from the Rams last season.
Pluto's entire article is listed in today's link collection below:
Terry Pluto's Talkin' about Browns defense (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
Passan: Bell, Rucker face long odds (Orange and Brown Report)
Florio projects Browns to miss the playoffs (Sporting News)
Today, June 2, is my birthday. I'm happy that the weather has been very pleasant on my birthday for the second consecutive year in a row!