The Browns Table: A Titan Struggle

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The Browns Table: A Titan Struggle

Welcome to The Browns Table, a season-long look at the 2008 season for the Cleveland Browns from the point of view of the Browns fans here on Bleacher Report.

 

This discussion is not just meant for the contributing Browns fans. Please feel free to comment on any of the questions or any of our answers below.

 

We welcome any comments and an open discussion about the Browns below.  If you would like a seat at the table leave me a note on my profile and we will try and get you in the rotation.

 

As always thanks to Browns fans the Dawgfather, Dustin Haley, Eric Lawhead for their contributions this week.

 

The Browns lost to the Tennessee Titans, which wasn’t surprising, but the guys look for some positives from the game…if there are any.  They also debate the futures of a few players, personnel needs for 2009, and if it is OK to root against your team.

 

 

The Browns fought as long as they could but still came up short against the Titans.  Are there any positives the Browns can take from this contest?

 

The Dawgfather:

That we need to reassess this WHOLE franchise from top to bottom! we have receivers who cant' catch, an o-line that can't block! and QB's who can't throw, in ALL my years of watching the Browns I have NEVER seen such a pathetic and impotent performance than what I saw on Sunday it was like watching 1999 all over again.

 

Dustin Haley:

There was not anything spectacular from the game for which we should build on for the season, but if not anything, the Browns found out exactly who has heart and whose here to win.

 

It was good to see that we have a backup QB that isn't out there going through the motions and he's going to give all he's got to win. He by no means had a great game, but I admire Dorsey for his determination. Obviously Cribbs has the most heart on the team, and looks to be stepping up as a team leader. Braylon has had a terrible season, but he's still competing, let's not give up on him yet. Defensively D'Qwell had a spectacular game and Shaun Rodgers was stellar as usual.

 

Eric Lawhead:

Another QB didn't get hurt for the rest of the season.

 

Jeff Smirnoff:

Not much.  Romeo Crennel just keeps digging his grave deeper and deeper each week with his game management.  I will give Ken Dorsey some credit for hanging in there while getting the crap beat out of him while Rob Chudzinski called for him to pass 43 times against the Titans defense. 

 

It’s also good to see Josh Cribbs, D’Qwell Jackson and Shaun Rogers busting their asses on every play even though there is not much to play for.  Other than those things and Phil Dawson being a good kicker, there isn’t much left to take from the game.

 

 

Jamal Lewis has looked old and slow the past few weeks.  Do you think he is a viable starting NFL running back for 2009?

 

The Dawgfather:

No, and not only because he has looked old and slow, it is because he IS old and slow he is about to hit 30 in August, and in the NFL that is like being put out to pasture, he can help this team in other areas, but he is way past his prime now and I think he is done as a RB.

 

Dustin Haley:

Starting? Yes. Feature? No. Before the season started I, like many, defended Jamal against critics who thought Jamal would decline this season. I did so with good reason. He was coming of a stellar year and had not shown any signs of regression, in fact he seemed to get better as the season wore on. Also many reports that he had reported to camp the lightest and in the best shape of his professional career, combine that with his work ethic it seemed he poised to have another great season.

 

I believe that Jamal's decline this year has less to do with his age than his running style. It doesn't seem to me that Jamal has slowed any; he never had exceptional speed to begin with. However he seems to have turned from a downhill runner to a more timid runner; he's become easy to bring down. All this doesn't mean he can't be an effective runner with the proper complimentary back.

 

Eric Lawhead:

No, they need to get rid of him and let the Harrison era begin. They should also spend a late round draft pick on a running back and build towards the future. With Quinn being the future behind center, they need someone to help him.

 

Jeff Smirnoff:

Yes, but his tank is nearly empty.  I think he can be productive, in a role, for one more season.  He should get 15 to 20 carries a game but the days of him carrying the full load are over.  Whether it is Jerome Harrison, Josh Cribbs or someone else Lewis should split carries with a faster, more athletic back in 2009.  I am thinking a la Jerome Bettis late in his career.

 

 

D'Qwell Jackson: He has had a decent year.  Do you see him as a key member of the Browns defense in the future?

 

The Dawgfather:

Yeah, and I also feel it maybe time to look at letting some of the younger players on the field like Hall and Bell, you know players who can actually TACKLE, it would not surprise me when the new coach decides to cut Davis and maybe even Wimbley who is now officially a bust in my eyes.

 

Dustin Haley:

Yes. D'Qwell may not be you're classic prototypical linebacker, but in this day and age size isn't everything in the NFL. Today's linebackers are not on the field to just stop the run, but are now responsible for many areas of defense.

 

When offenses tout players like Kellen Winslow, Dallas Clark, and Jason Witten you’re at a disadvantage if you don't have a versatile linebacker to cover them. D'Qwell has not just defended the run but has also covered tight ends and receivers very well.

 

D'Qwell has shown he has a great nose for the ball. He hasn't always been the first to the ball this year, but with our lackluster tackling he's typically the one cleaning up. He may not be an impact linebacker, but with a better supporting cast, Jackson would prove to be a cornerstone on any defense.

 

Eric Lawhead:

Sure, anyone who can have a decent year on a defense that is this bad, should be looked at to only get better down the road. They need a lot of help on defense and need to make the alright players into better players, and they can do that with Jackson.

 

Jeff Smirnoff:

I am torn.  He has been very active this year, a lot more active than previous years.  He has started to make a play here and there but not at the rate that an impact ILB in a 3-4 needs to.  He seems to be very athletic and decently fast but he is so undersized for an ILB in the NFL I wonder if he can truly have be the impact player the Browns desperately need him to be.  I can see him being the second ILB in the 3-4 if they had a monster ILB next to him and a pass rush at OLB but without those he doesn’t cut the mustard.

 

 

What are the Browns' most pressing positional needs in the off season?

 

The Dawgfather:

Number one with a bullet, LB—do I really need to go into why we have the WORST LB's corps in the league?  Second is RB—Harrison and Wright are nice change of pace backs, but I don't see starting tailback, feature back status in them, it wouldn't surprise me to see the browns take a RB with the first pick. 

 

Third DB, please see number one.  Fourth, WR. Edwards has lost confidence in himself and Stallworth is a joke.  We need a true No.1 receiver who can challenge Braylon or help him because Steptoe is too short, Sanders is average and we need some depth, missing JJ really hurt us this year.

 

Dustin Haley:

As the roster stands right now, and the Browns keep the 3-4 defense I feel that the most pressing position we need to look for in free agency is a replacement for Andre Davis. Andre has given us many years of solid play but it's time for the team and him to part ways. I'm against drafting a linebacker because we already have pretty young core at the position, and we will need a starting caliber player with playing experience.

 

In the draft I would like to see us go after a half back, preferably with the first pick. As we have talked about Jamal is no longer a feature back, Jason Wright is a solid blocking back but not a great runner, and Jerome Harrison, while exciting, is not an every down back. I feel that there are many potential quality backs that may declare for this draft and we should be able to come away with a nice complimentary back to what we have.

 

Eric Lawhead:

Defense, defense, defense. They have the tools on offense and Quinn can only get better. They need to draft with their first three picks defensive players, especially in the secondary ans possibly a linebacker as well. Besides the defense, they need to look for a new coach, and Marty isn't the answer. (Bill Cowher, anyone?)

 

Jeff Smirnoff:

First and foremost is linebacker.  Whether they run the 3-4 or the 4-3 is irrelevant at this point in time.  Right now, only maybe D’Qwell Jackson could qualify as an NFL right now and even that is debatable.  After linebacker they need to focus on secondary depth, finding a running back to eventually take over for Jamal Lewis, wide receiver depth and cultivating some young offensive linemen.

 

 

Philosophy Question: The Browns have been out of play-off contention for some time now.  Are you rooting for them to lose to get a better draft pick or is that sacrilege?

 

The Dawgfather:

Not at all, as long as we beat Pittsburgh, everything is gravy.

 

Dustin Haley:

No. Never. I expect a win every game. The draft is a somewhat of a crapshoot anyway, but if your scouts know what to look for and do their job correctly, you’re going to come out of the draft with a player your looking for, regardless of pick.

 

Eric Lawhead:

 I'm never one for sand-bagging it. They should play out the rest of the season and be spoilers to the other teams. They could really screw up the AFC North with a week 17 win at Pittsburgh. That would look nice to attract Cowher, huh?

 

Jeff Smirnoff:

I never root for the Browns to lose.  I am one who believes you always play to win no matter what.  I can not actively root for my team to lose.  I honestly can not see the Browns beating anyone on the schedule other than Cincinnati and even that is not a given.

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