With the Browns third pre-season game looming this weekend these are the 5 questions I have rattling around in my brain, no offense to the riveting Jerome Harrison/Chris Barclay 3rd RB battle…
5. Can the Browns make it out healthy?
Eric Steinbach, Andra Davis, Willie McGinest, Orpheous Roye, Lawrence Vickers and Mason Unck are all on the shelf for the Denver Game to name a few. Matt Stewart is already on IR for the year. Gary Baxter and LeCharles Bentley look headed there or to the PUP List. Injuries have plagued the Browns since their return in 1999. They have added depth and talent but not enough to overcome a rash of injuries. Steinbach, Davis, Roye and Vickers should be back for Week 1 versus Pittspuke. The Browns need to minimize that list to have any chance of winning that game.
4. Who will start at ILB?
Andra Davis is resting up so Leon Williams will get extended PT and that excites me. Andra Davis drags people down 5 yards down field. D’Qwell Jackson has good instinct but is still undersized. Leon Williams attacks the line of scrimmage and the ball carrier. And he’s so damn fast despite his size it’s exhilarating. How the Browns use the ILB during the season will be interesting.
3. Can any of the receivers catch?
At the 2007 Browns Training Camp, the receivers have been paying tribute to fallen comrade Dennis Northcutt by dropping everything thrown their way. Braylon Edwards has looked (and sounded) more mature but he still has the knack for not pulling in a catchable pass. Travis Wilson, Tim Carter and Josh Cribbs have done nothing to separate themselves from each other for the 3rd receiver spot. Question 3A… Where the hell is Joe Jurevicius? No passes thrown his way all pre-season. It was the same at the start of last year. Joe isn’t Steve Largent but he is a valuable weapon that the Browns will need to use if they want to win. Can any of these guys step up to give the QB someone other that Kellen Winslow to throw to?
2. Can we stop the run?
Based on the Lions game, not yet. Roye is injured so Shaun Smith and Simon Fraser have seen extended time. The Browns looked OK against the Chiefs (without LJ) but T. J. Duckett and Tatum Bell ran all over them last week. The Broncos fabled zone run blocking scheme should be a good barometer of the defense’s improvement (or lack of) over lack year.
1. Who can QB?
Is their any bigger question? I have lost faith in Derek Anderson. He has all the tools but can’t put them together and looks very bad. Like “cut list” bad. Charlie Frye has a lot more talent that people think but his brain doesn’t seem to process obvious information very well or function for 60 consecutive minutes. I am actually thinking that Ken Dorsey might be the safest option right now so I may be going insane. Brady Quinn will QB this team at some point this season, but not from Game 1. He still needs to learn the O and work on some reads. The best thing about his performance versus Detroit is that he commanded a huddle of 10 hodge-podge guys (who will probably be cut) looked poised, didn’t panic and made all the right reads. All things any NFL quarterback should be able to do, but something no Browns QB has done since Tim Couch. Yes, Tim Couch haters, he could at least run a huddle. Neither Frye nor Anderson could do that with the first or second teams. Quinn will give the Browns the best chance to win at some point this season, it just won’t be Week 1, be patient his time will come. And it will be sooner than later, just not as soon as some crazies want.