Monday, August 22, 2016

Random thoughts . . .

The Browns appear to have a philosophical problem with regard to the way they draft for the defense. They don't properly fit the players they select in the annual lottery with their particular talents and maximize those talents.

The Browns the last several seasons have chosen to play defense with the basic 3-4 scheme, which is designed primarily to stop the outside run. So why then do they draft collegiate linemen whose forte is rushing the quarterback from a 4-3 set?

Why select the likes of Jabaal Sheard, Barkevious Mingo. Nate Orchard and Emmanuel Ogbah, who put up rather impressive numbers as defensive ends in college, and switch them to outside linebacker in the National Football League?

The answer is quite simple. They aren’t big enough to play along the defensive line in a 3-4 set. Most 3-4 fronts call for linemen who are at least 6-3 and weigh at least 300 pounds.

Because Mingo, Ogbah and Orchard aren’t even close to 300 pounds, they aren’t considered big enough. Instead, they have been shifted outside the line and taken on added duties of stopping the run or dropping back into pass coverage.

In other words, do something they rarely, if ever, had to do while compiling impressive statistics in college as a defensive end. As a result, their contributions on the pro level have been relatively minimal.

If the Browns are so insistent about sticking with a 3-4, draft players who play outside backer in college and can come in ready to play rather than having to learn on the job. The current drafting philosophy makes no sense.

Mingo, Orchard and Ogbah are much more effective with their hand on the ground. Mingo has had so much trouble making the adjustment, the Browns have even tried him at inside linebacker in an effort to find out just where he fits in best.

If the Browns want a better pass rush, hire a defensive coordinator who favors the 4-3 approach. Move Ogbah, Orchard and Mingo to defensive end, where they are much more comfortable, and pound away at opposing quarterbacks.

A 4-3 defensive line would take the pressure off Danny Shelton, who has badly underperformed as a nose tackle in the 3-4. His ineffective play has made it more difficult for the inside linebackers to make plays at or behind the line of scrimmage.

Shelton has seen numerous double teams along the way, which can be argued limits his effectiveness. A 4-3 approach would require fewer double teams by opposing offense and conceivably produce better results from the youngster.

Unless defensive coordinator Ray Horton becomes more of a hybrid advocate and features numerous looks up front  throughout the season, do not look for any significant improvement over what fans have been subjected to the last several seasons.

Bear in mind Horton learned his coaching chops under the fabled Dick LeBeau in Pittsburgh. The biggest difference is LeBeau worked with – and was successful with – something he had that the Browns are striving to achieve: quality talent.

Oh, and the Steelers’ draft gurus knew the difference between a defensive end and outside linebacker.
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When they had the second pick in the last NFL draft before they traded it to Philadelphia, the player I wanted the Browns to select was Joey Bosa. That died with the trade and San Diego grabbed the Ohio State defensive end with the third pick.

But Bosa has yet to play a game for the Chargers. In fact, he and the Chargers are in the midst of a contract squabble that has the kid holding out. It’s not about money. It’s about how quickly he receives payments on his $17 million signing bonus and whether offset language is included in the contract.

Hope Sashi Brown is monitoring the situation. Might be a good time for the Browns boss to pick up the phone and give Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco a call. Or maybe Jimmy Haslam III can suggest to Chargers owner Dean Spanos that he has a solution to the problem.

It’s entirely possible the Browns can make the Chargers an offer for Bosa they can’t refuse. They have two extremely high first-round picks in next year’s draft in their pocket. Why not package the lower of those selections and a starter, say offensive tackle Joe Thomas, in exchange for the kid?

What’s that, you ask? Trade a perennial All-Pro? Are you kidding me? That’s a sacrilege.

Settle down. Thomas is on the back end of his wonderful career and probably the biggest name to dangle with regard to having a chance to pick up a player who would bring instant recognition to the Browns.

His Ohio State affiliation would make him one of the faces of the franchise instantaneously and an immediate fan favorite.

Ok, it’s a shot in the dark. But when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Suggesting such a deal has a plausibility quotient that elevates it into the realm of at least making one think.
*       *       *
Quick thoughts on Friday’s exhibition in Tampa . . . Quarterback Robert Griffin III should play at least into the early stages of the fourth quarter. Since he’s not playing in the final exhibition, why not extend him? He needs to be sharp for the season opener on Sept. 11. . . . Minimize Josh Gordon’s participation against the Buccaneers. He’s going to miss the first four games, anyway. Give his reps to the four rookie wide receivers and Terrelle Pryor, who will be there for the first four games. . . . Time to get a little more creative with the pass rush. Nothing wrong hauling out some of the more sophisticated blitz packages. It’s only an exhibition. What have they got to lose? . . . The most telling stats for the Browns  in the Tampa Bay exhibition will be time of possession and number of plays on offense. In the first two exhibitions, the Cleveland offense owned the ball for 40 minutes and 17 seconds and ran 84 plays. Anemic doesn’t begin to describe how embarrassing those numbers are.


  1. Per the CBA, the Chargers cannot trade Bosa's rights now that it's closer than 30 days 'til the start of the season.

  2. Hi Ace,

    Did not know. Tnx for the info. Strange rule. Surprised the players would agree to that.

    Tnx for reading. I'm a little surprised since we have had our differences in the past. I'm guessing that hasn't changed much.


  3. Regarding your 4-3 set comments, I thought this one of the best posts you've ever written. And I completely agree.

    Question: I thought I read somewhere that a good 3-4 set requires a better grade of athletes than a good 4-3 does. Is this correct?

  4. That's a very gray area. Theoretically, outside linebackers and ends are the best athletes in the front seven. In the 3-4, the bigger ends are not nearly as athletic as the ends in a 4-3. From a numbers standpoint then, the 4-3 scheme has better athletes. It all depends on the philosophy of the defensive coordinator as to how a team drafts.