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Why The Defense Is Ahead Of The Offense

First of all, don't call Heckert fat.

To be honest, I don't care if Heckert ends up being 1,000 pounds, as long as he keeps hitting on draft picks.

I know that the Browns offense has been bad the past two weeks. In fact, it has been really, really bad. But I am a glass is half full kind of guy now. I want to talk about the defense.

In case you haven't looked, the Browns defense is ranked 4th in the NFL! Seriously! Don't get me wrong, I think ranking defenses by yards isn't the smartest thing in the world, but even going by points, the Browns rank 8th in the NFL.

So why is the Browns defense playing so well, while the Browns offense is playing so poorly? It's pretty simple, it's because of Heckert.

I wish I could take credit for this idea, but I can't.

Someone, and whoever you are please take credit, (I searched through four different threads and could not find the comment. I want to say DawgNuts or TDSH?) made what should have been obvious to me, but it wasn't.

The Browns and their new front office, for all the hub-a-baloo about being offensive masterminds and coaches, have done a major reworking on defense.

When you break it down, it's shocking at how quickly, and effectively, this has been done.

LDE: Jabaal Sheard: 2nd round draft pick by Heckert and Holmgren (H&H): 22 Years Old (YO)

DT: Phil Taylor : 1st round draft pick by H&H: 23 YO

DT: Tuba Rubin : 6th round pick by Savage (All praise be to Savage): 25 YO

RDE: Jayme Mitchell: Acquired in trade by H&H: 27 YO

OLB: Scott Fujita: Free Agent Signing by H&H: 32 YO

MLB: D'Qwell Jackson: Drafted 2nd Round by Savage (All praise be to Savage): 28 YO

OLB: Chris Gocong: Acquired in a trade by H&H: 27 YO

CB: Joe Haden: 1st round draft pick by H&H: 22 YO

SS: TJ Ward: 2nd round draft pick by H&H: 24 YO

FS: Usama Young: Free Agent Signing by H&H: 26 YO

CB: Sheldon Brown: Traded for by H&H: 32 YO

In two years, H&H have replaced 9 starters, seven who are under the age of 27. It's a young nucleus that has a chance to completely change the face of this franchise.

The front office has used high draft picks and used free agent money on this side of the ball. Big time currency. It has passed on high end offensive prospects (Julio Jones, CJ Spiller, etc.) to build up on defense. 

It has been a focus. 


Then you look at the offense. What has H&H done to improve the personnel on that side of the ball?

QB: Colt McCoy: 3rd round draft pick: 25 YO

RB: Peyton Hillis: Acquired through trade by Kokinis H&H: 25 YO

RB: Montario Hardesty: 2nd round draft pick: 24 YO

FB: Owen Marecic: 4th round pick by H&H: 23 YO

WR: Greg Little: 2nd round draft pick by H&H: 22 YO

WR: Mohammed Massaquoi: 2nd round draft pick by Kokinis: 24 YO

WR: Brian Robiskie: 2nd round draft pick by Kokinis: 23 YO

TE: Ben Watson: Free Agent signing by H&H: 30 YO

LT: Joe Thomas: 1st round pick by Savage (All praise be to Savage): 26 YO

LG: Eric Stienbach: Free Agent signing by Savage (All praise be to Savage): 31 YO

C: Alex Mack: 1st round draft pick by Kokinis: 25 YO

RG: Shuan Lauvao: 3rd round draft pick by Kokinis H&H: 23 YO

RT: Tony Pashos: Free Agent signing by H&H: 31 YO

Five Seven starters, one being a FB, have been replaced by H&H, and only two of those would be deemed "must hits" on draft pick value (If you are new to me, I believe that you have to make the top 50 picks, or rounding up the first two rounds of the NFL draft count.)

**UPDATE** I had two above players listed incorrectly. Thanks to those who pointed it out.

So two 2nd rounders is the only premium currency that the front office has used on the offense. That's it, in two years.

The Ben Watson signing was solid and the Pashos signing has been okay when he has been healthy, but I wouldn't call either one of their deals "monster contracts" and would say that we have gotten return on their signings.

But looking at the picture as a whole, this front office hasn't spent big money or high picks on the offense. They have been using lottery tickets (late picks) and dumpster diving for deals.  

What this means to me is that this front office doesn't have their finger prints on this offense yet. Sure, we are installing a new type of offense, but I'm not sure what personnel will be held over to next season. There is a real chance that the 2012 Cleveland Browns could have 6 different starters than what we expected to have at the start of this season (QB, RB, WR, LG, RG, RT). 

The defense didn't get rebuilt overnight. It took two solid drafts, some good free agent money, and two trades. And if we are being realistic, the defense is still far from done. I doubt the Browns would disagree that we need more depth on the DL, maybe a better pass rusher at RDE, more athleticism at LB, and possibly a new starter at CB and FS.

But with all that, the Browns have 4-5 guys on defense that we can really build around that are young. When is the last time we could say that?

What I am getting at, is that the Browns front office has what looks like a real plan here. Get a ton of picks, build up the defense, find out what you have on offense, and rebuild through the draft. I would bet that we will address the offensive side of the ball this April.

Remember this offseason when everyone was panicking because the Browns weren't spending oodles of money in the free agent market? Weddle would have been nice, and so would have been Charles Johnson, but we aren't doing too poorly without them. Seems like a prudent plan now. See what we have. Spend money later.

So while the offense sucks to watch right now, and I think they will get it on track, enjoy this defense, because it has been built the right way.