Browns wise to focus on defense in free agency

Posted by Bernie Kosar on March 20, 2012 – 2:30 am

By Bernie Kosar, Special Contributor to

Here are my takes on some key Browns and NFL issues made while appearing on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”:

On the Browns’ signing on free-agent defensive end Frostee Rucker: I think the model is becoming really clear, at least for this era of the NFL with the emphasis on passing the ball, that one of the most important things to being an overall good team is the pass rush – the front four, the front seven, the ability to get after the quarterback and the ability to cause havoc within the line of scrimmage and make stops. Last year, it was so imperative that Jabaal Sheard, Ahtyba Rubin, and Phil Taylor stayed healthy. But for everybody on the defensive line in the NFL to stay healthy year in and year out is not realistic. So to add quality players in the rotation, I think, is a fantastic move.

On free agency not being a cure-all: History isn’t an indicator of future success or failure, but it does give you something to kind of gauge by. And the Albert Haynesworths of the world tend to be more of the norm in free agency than the Drew Breeses and the other success stories. So you really have to be careful when you’re trying to win the spring time/early summer PR wars to look good by making splash signings, as opposed to making good, solid fundamental decisions for the success of the fall and wintertime. History has showed that the teams that are most active – the Detroit Lions over the last five to seven years have been the most active in free agency – yet I think have won 31 percent of their games. The teams who have won the most percentage of games tend to be the least active in free agency and do the most in the draft. So, again, it’s fun to talk about. It’s fun to kind of play fantasy football about this time of year. But to really be successful by signing lots of free agents, like the Redskins have done over time and the Cowboys have done over the last decade, they tend not to pan out.

On the importance of the Browns re-signing cornerback Dimitri Patterson: With spread offenses and the multiple-receiver sets, more times than not you have more than two cornerbacks on the field in given defenses. Whether Sheldon Brown starts or Dimitri Patterson starts, odds are three of them, with Joe Haden, will be on the field trying to make stops. In this pass-happy league, with some of the rules being offensively positive right now, you need that kind of help at cornerback. Dimitri came over last year from Philadelphia, and he has made plays. And keeping your own, whether it’s D’Qwell Jackson or Patterson – keeping guys like this to kind of build some consistency – is easier said than done in free agency. When you’re rebuilding, I think it’s imperative for continuity to keep some of the guys like this – to keep some of the core guys that you want to be part of your future to be part of your locker room.

Be sure to catch Bernie Kosar’s regular appearances with Vic Carucci on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford,” Monday through Friday, 6-7 p.m. ET, live on ESPN 850 WKNR and

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