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Be Very Careful: Browns Will Have More Conservative Approach on Offense

Eric HardingContributor IMay 18, 2009

BEREA, OH - MAY 02:  Head coach Eric Mangini of the Cleveland Browns looks on  during rookie mini camp at the Cleveland Browns Training and Administrative Complex on May 2, 2009 in Berea, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Although the Cleveland Browns defense in 2009 will look very similar as past seasons, they will have a new offensive approach this year under new coach Eric Mangini. The key though, is how quickly the Browns can find the right players to fit their system.


Offense

With Mangini taking over as head coach in Cleveland, the belief is he’ll bring a variant of the westcoast passing offense he used as head coach of the New York Jets and as an assistant with the New England Patriots.

This will be quite a contrast to the Browns’ previous regime, which used more of a vertical passing offense under former offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, known around the league as the “Air Coryell” offense.

With Chudzinski calling plays the past two seasons, the Browns looked to take advantage of Derek Anderson’s arm strength and deep receiving threats Braylon Edwards and tight end Kellen Winslow.

With Chudzinski and Winslow gone and Brady Quinn expected to be the starting quarterback on opening day, the Browns will shift to more of a, ball-control offense using short passes under new coordinator Brian Daboll.

Cleveland has already begun bringing in those types of players who fit into this new style of play. The additions of slot receivers David Patten and Mike Furrey gives the team two veteran receivers with sure hands, although neither are deep threats.

Second round draft pick Brian Robiskie is viewed by many as a classic NFL “possession receiver” at 6-foot-3 with good hands, and fellow second rounder Mohamed Massaquoai is very versatile (meaning he could play in the slot or on the outside).

But the key is Quinn, who is very effective throwing short passes and taking what the defense gives him underneath, but is yet to prove he can beat NFL defenses consistently with deep passes.

Expect to see the Browns use a much more methodical approach on offense this season and try to wear teams down by dominating the time of possession.


Defense
Defensively, the Browns will continue to use the 3-4 defense Romeo Crennel installed when he became head coach in 2005.

However, Crennel’s defenses were often very plain with soft coverage on the outside and usually had linebackers dropping in coverage underneath.

The theory was to make opposing offenses put together long scoring drives rather than hurt them with big plays. But if you’ve seen any Browns games over the past few years, you know that hasn’t always worked.

Many times the Browns were unable to get pressure by rushing three or four, allowing quarterbacks to dissect their zone coverage. The result has been one of the league’s worst defenses during that time.

With new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan taking over the play-calling, it’s uncertain if the Browns will do more blitzing this season. In fact according to statistical service stats LLC reports, the Raiders had the second fewest blitzes last season only to the Indianapolis Colts with Ryan calling the plays.

Ryan certainly has the pedigree to be successful as the son of Buddy Ryan and twin brother of Jets coach Rex, as each are known for developing exotic blitzing schemes. He has a lot of experience calling defenses in the NFL, but didn’t enjoy much success the past two seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Raiders.

Some within the Raiders organization, former coach Lane Kiffin in particular, have said the Raiders’ defensive philosophy was controlled by owner Al Davis.

That claim certainly is possible, as Ryan’s defenses at Oklahoma State University in the late 1990s were among the best in the country.

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