Time for week 11 status check on the boys in brown and orange.
If you had a chance to read my previous article, then you know how I felt about the quarterback play during the Monday night football game against Buffalo. However, the game gave plenty more food for thought in regards to the Cleveland Browns. Here are a few things that caught my attention as the clock ticked down to zero.
The Defense is Way Too Slow
I know, what kind of claim is this? Our defense is so stout and outstanding and, sorry, couldn't even get through with a straight face.
To me, one of the problems with the lack of tackling ability is a lack of overall speed. They simply aren't fast enough to catch up with any running back once he's broken past the front seven.
A big weakness is Andra Davis.
I read an article which claimed Andra Davis was a great guy, just not a great football player. No truer statement can be made. At inside linebacker, he needs to be fast enough to break through the holes the Defensive line creates for him in order to make a stop in the backfield. Yet he's just not getting there at the right speed.
With the pay cut he took during the offseason, it's pretty obvious his fate is sealed. And though I've always been a fan, he's on his way out and it's a move that needs to be made.
Many people are claiming outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley is a bust considering his numbers have sunk since his rookie year. However, I believe it's because he's in the wrong position.
I think if Wimbley was moved to inside linebacker, he might play better than he is these days. My reasoning comes from the fact he doesn't have any pass rushing moves beyond pure speed. At outside linebacker, you need some set of moves in order to maneuver around the offensive tackles. Playing inside, he'd just need the speed to fire through the holes fast enough to stop the running back.
If this isn't the route taken, then they need to address this in the draft by grabbing James Laurinaitis or Rey Maualuga if they're still available.
Not all of the defensive problems can be solved by re-positioning, but some of them can, and I'd give it a shot, at least during practice to see what works.
Jerome Harrison's "Play Me '08" Campaign Made a Big Boost
In only three rushes, Harrison collected more yards than Jamal Lewis did in his 18 attempts. The biggest of these came on a 72-yard touchdown run where he found a hole and practically ran to Niagara Falls.
Harrison's lack of (well deserved) playing time has puzzled the fans for weeks, and if he doesn't play much this Sunday, it'll only get worse. However, he's currently on the injured list with a pulled hamstring, so those concerns may pass for this week at least.
Some fans are so impressed by Jerome Harrison's running that they are suggesting he be moved to starter over Lewis. And while I agree Harrison deserves more playing time, starting him is something I'm not sold on quite yet.
The reason is because we still haven't seen enough of him. We know he can run sweeps, pitches, and screens incredibly well, but what we don't know is how well he'll run inside on dives and isos. He is not Jamal Lewis' size, nor does he have the ability to break tackles.
Even if he can make the opposing defense look like our own, we won't know until we see more of him. If he's healthy this week, and still continues to be bench buddies with Derek Anderson, look for the controversy to heat up worse than it has all year.
Phil Dawson is as Classy as They Come
If there's anyone on this team who has earned the right to stick around since the franchise returned in 1999, it's Dawson.
Over the past few seasons, Phil "P-Diddy" Dawson (no, it's not his real nickname, but it does fit doesn't it?) has continually done what is asked of him, regardless of how difficult the task may be. Whether it's kicking a game-winning field goal despite it being 50 or more yards away, or scoring three points through Satan's Snowstorm, Dawson gives it his all to win for Cleveland.
One of the best things I heard from Monday's aftermath was how the call for the field goal was made.
Quinn failed to grab off first down, Dawson looked to Crennel, gave him a nod despite the attempt being a career long, and that was that.
Any other kicker may have doubted himself from 56-yards out, maybe even encouraged the coach to go for it on fourth down. All Dawson did was nod, then clear the uprights with a few yards to spare.
This one motion speaks endlessly about the type of guy Dawson is. If Crennel said, "OK, we're backed up at our own five, get Phil out there," he'd most likely trot onto the field without question. He'd miss (...maybe), but that's not the point.
It's Dawson who deserves to be screaming "That's what I do," after scoring, not Braylon Edwards. In a time when the Browns locker room is getting called out for quitting and having too many prima donnas, at least we know one player will continue to play his heart out, no matter what the scoreboard or record says.
Thank you Phil Dawson.
Seeing Romeo Crennel Celebrate is Almost as Exciting as the Win Itself
I don't know what was better, Dawson's scoring kick or Crennel showing more emotion within five seconds than he has since coming to the team.
He's constantly taking heat for being our sideline statue, never really looking angry, happy, sad, or even moderately disappointed. If you told him he won the lottery he might just make a face that screamed at the top of its lungs a hefty "Neat, I guess."
Yet, when the game winning kick went through, Romeo was shown celebrating with hands in the air and a face full of joy.
It's these subtleties that show how he does, in fact, care about this job and team. It may take even the funniest of all comedians to elicit a slight chuckle from him during post-game conferences, but when the team pulls through with a clutch win, he can show some emotion.
As the roller coaster ride that is the Browns season keeps banking back and forth, it's good to know that, despite the criticism, Crennel does want to win. And while it doesn't always come through for him, a team needs a coach who shows some life on the sideline.
I guess it's a less-is-more approach, but hey, whatever works.