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Bill Callahan: Browns offensive line is the missing piece

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Veteran coach came to Cleveland with his eye on fixing the issues along the offensive line.

NFL: Washington Redskins-Minicamp Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Callahan may have spent the past three seasons with the Washington Redskins, but he could still see what everyone else saw when it came to the Cleveland Browns.

Namely, the offensive line was a mess.

Callahan has spent 14 of his 21 years in the NFL coaching offensive lineman, so when head coach Kevin Stefanski offered Callahan the opportunity to take over the offensive line with the Browns, Callahan knew he was the man for the job, as the told clevelandbrowns.com on Friday:

“I’ve been watching the Cleveland situation for a number of years. The acquired talent, you know Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb and Myles Garrett. Then of course we (Washington) opened the preseason with the Browns and I was very impressed with the skill positions and what they did here. That missing piece was the offensive line and I felt that I could contribute, that I could make it better. It was a good system fit, a good staff fit and the main thing is that I’m with good guys.”

Callahan has his work cut out for him as the Browns offensive line finished last season as one of the league’s lower-ranked units, according to Pro Football Focus.

The addition of right tackle Jack Conklin in free agency and left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. in the draft helped Cleveland earn the “honor” of being selected by PFF as having the league’s most-improved offensive line, but there is still a lot of ground to cover for the unit to back up that selection.

Conklin should have no problem taking over on the right side, Callahan told Nate Ulrich of The Beacon Journal:

“You talk about a system fit — you couldn’t get a more perfect tackle in free agency than Jack. He fits the mode for the wide zone game and his pass protection sets, how he short sets and he jumps at the line of scrimmage, which is a tough skill to acquire. Then, of course, in third down and later downs, you can watch him set vertically, and you can see his variance of sets.

“He has the toolbox and he has the skill set to do quite well. What I really like about Jack is he’s a player that’s really thirsty for new techniques and new ways of doing things. He’s wide open from that aspect. I’m really looking forward to digging down in the trenches with him and seeing how we can tweak some things and help his game.”

There is some valid concerns about Wills, however, as he will be making the transition from the right side of the line to the left. While there are some who believe it is no big deal, it is not as simple as heading left out of the huddle instead of right.

That particular circumstance falls into Callahan’s wheelhouse, however, as he has previously helped Tyron Smith (Dallas Cowboys), Zack Martin (Dallas Cowboys) and Brandon Scherff (Washington Redskins) all make the move and seen them go on to earn Pro Bowl honors.

Wills has the mentality to successfully make the move, Callahan told the team’s website:

“He’s got these intangibles that show up in tangible ways on film. You watch him finish — the detail, the technique. You watch his consistent effort and stamina throughout the course of the game from start to finish, and I think that was the appeal for me. The willingness is number one. You have to want to go over there.

“When you watch a player on film, I think your takeaways are that this guy is a good player. He’s solid, he has athletic ability, but with Jedrick, it was a little different in that you could feel him on film. He came alive on tape. You got excited about what he was doing throughout the course of the game.”

The Browns still have a lot of work to put in along the offensive line before the season starts this fall, but given Callahans coaching history, they appear to be in good hands.