The Cleveland Browns may be looking at making some changes along the offensive line once the team returns from its bye week.
The only problem is that the team’s options are limited.
One switch that is reportedly being considered is benching left tackle Greg Robinson, who has struggled with consistency — but has consistently drawn a penalty — through the season’s first six games. According to cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, citing a league source, if the decision to sit Robinson has not already been made, it is coming soon.
While taking Robinson out of the lineup sounds like a grand plan on paper, it raises the question of who will take his place? Kendall Lamm has been out with a knee injury since the first week of the season and has been a mainstay of the weekly inactive list.
Lamm did return to practice for last week’s game against the Seattle Seahawks, albeit on a limited basis, so he is at least closer to returning. But even if healthy, he may not be much of an improvement over Robinson.
General manager John Dorsey has also contacted the Washington Redskins about a trade for Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams. While Williams would be a clear upgrade over Robinson, the Redskins have said they are not interested in trading Williams and, as Dorsey pointed out this week, it takes two teams to make a deal work.
From @gmfb: The #Redskins aren‘t trading Trent Williams this year, despite #Browns GM John Dorsey’s repeated attempts, but there are indications it could happen after the season. pic.twitter.com/yVCFdlQoCH— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) October 19, 2019
The situation is the same on the right side of the line with tackle Chris Hubbard, who has posted a grade of 52.2 from Pro Football Focus so far this season, which puts him at No. 65 among the league’s starting tackles. If the Browns were to bench Hubbard, they could try Justin McCray at tackle, although in limited time he has shown to be only slightly better than Hubbard. McCray has posted an overall PFF grade of 64.1, according to cleveland.com, although his run blocking has been superior to Hubbard’s, as McCray is at 77.1, while Hubbard is at 40.
Right guard seems to be the one area where the Browns may have a viable option. Eric Kush won the starting job by default over the recently traded Austin Corbett, but Kush is the lowest-graded offensive lineman on the team by PFF (48) and is ranked as the 65th guard out of 77 eligible players.
The Browns did trade for guard Wyatt Teller right before the start of the season and if the team decides to move on from Kush, Teller appears to be the player to take over the position.
Teller played predominantly on the left side of the line with the Buffalo Bills, however, and making the switch to the right side is not an easy one. But offensive line coach James Campen said Teller is making progress, according to clevelandbrowns.com:
“I think he’s getting closer and closer. We’ve had him moving from a left- and right-handed stance and that’s more difficult for some. I think he’s getting more comfortable. His knowledge of what we’re teaching here from a schematic standpoint and fundamental standpoint, I think he’s starting to catch up.”
For all the talk about changes on the offensive line, it is possible the Browns will simply stay the course for now due to a lack of better options. And as Campen pointed out this week, it might just be a matter of giving the current line more time together and get everyone focusing on doing their job, according to cleveland.com:
“For every one of them, not only [Robinson], just the heightened awareness, surroundings, what’s going on within a defensive structure and seeing things quicker, reaction. I think for the whole, entire group, if we can get that going, we’re going to cover up a lot of things.
“So there’s got to be a cohesiveness with those five guys on a consistent basis and they haven’t been in unity here together and being able to operate as one and that’s what you want your offensive line to do on a week to week basis is be together with five guys working together.”