By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor
You’ve got questions and comments that you submit to the Browns’ official Facebook and Twitter pages. Here’s what I have to say about what you say:
Drew – The best scenario for the Browns at the quarterback position in 2012 is Colt McCoy as the starter at the beginning of the season. Of course, in most cases the best guy should play no matter what, and if Brandon Weeden absolutely and definitely shows he is a much better quarterback than McCoy, then give Brandon the nod. But if it’s a close competition, then start McCoy.
Drew, the bottom line is that the Browns will start the best quarterback.
I don’t envision McCoy getting the nod at the beginning of the year simply because he was the incumbent or has more NFL experience.
The only way McCoy would land the No. 1 spot is by thoroughly outperforming Weeden and anyone else the Browns have at quarterback. I saw no evidence of that during offseason workouts, and it is my expectation that, barring unforeseen circumstances, Weeden will be named the starter.
During offseason workouts, he tilted the competition in his favor by being a distinctively better thrower than McCoy, Seneca Wallace, and Thaddeus Lewis.
And that’s on top of the other reasons the competition already was titled in his favor: His draft status, the need to get him on the field ASAP because of his age, the elevated maturity he displays because of his age and exposure to professional baseball, the comfort he demonstrated working under center after spending the bulk of his career at Oklahoma State in shotgun formation, and his quick grasp of the offense.
Ken – We need some good wide receivers. When are we going to going to look at a veteran wide receiver to show the new wide receivers what is expected from them?
Ken, I’d be surprised if the Browns acquired a wide receiver or any new players between now and the start of training camp. I also don’t see the need for a veteran wide receiver to show the younger guys the ropes.
The younger receivers get more than sufficient guidance from their coaches. The addition of senior offensive assistant Nolan Cromwell, who has an extensive background as a receivers coach, has made and should continue to make a major difference in the improvement of the entire receiving corps. He has challenged the pass-catchers in ways they haven’t been challenged before, and his instruction is a strong complement to that of receivers coach Mike Wilson.
The improvement at quarterback should also make the Browns’ receivers better, as should the improvement at running back and better scheming that will take advantage of those upgrades. Travis Benjamin’s speed will have a positive impact because it will help stretch the defense and open things up for other receivers on underneath routes.
In addition, I don’t see a veteran receiver the Browns could add who would serve as a mentor/coach-in-pads for the younger members of the group. Chad Ochocinco, who recently joined the Dolphins, wasn’t that guy. Terrell Owens, who is still available, isn’t, either.
James – To possibly compete with Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Cincinnati this season, offensively what must the Browns do?
The first place I would start, James, is with an effective running game. That’s the best way to force the aggressive defenses those teams have to play closer to the line, be somewhat less inclined to blitz, and help create room for the pass.
Secondly, the Browns need to take particularly good care of the football. That, in turn, would do wonders for the strongest area of the team: Defense.
Thirdly, the passing arm of Brandon Weeden should give the defenses of the Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, and other opponents more to think about than was previously the case against the Browns.
Jeff – Since Josh Cribbs’ contract is up this year and his role is diminishing with the new kickoff rules and the drafting of speedy Travis Benjamin, do you think he will be a Brown next year, because he’s not a great receiver, either?
I think there’s enough reason to question that, Jeff, but I’d like to see how this year plays out.
Cribbs still plays a significant role for the Browns. He remains a viable return man and can contribute as a receiver, although he probably shouldn’t be as much of a focal point in that area as he was last season when he ranked second on the team in receptions. It makes perfect sense to put the ball in his hands in space and take full advantage of his speed and elusiveness, but I don’t see the Browns leaning on him as heavily as they will on Greg Little or Mohamed Massaquoi or even Travis Benjamin as a rookie.
I think Cribbs should be a complementary part to the receiving game, and there are certain things he can do with his skill set, especially in the open field, that continues to be helpful. But as a gets older, it’s natural for him to slow down a little bit. You start to lose a little something. And beyond this year, I don’t know what his role looks like, especially if others – such as Benjamin and Buster Skrine – become bigger factors in the return game.
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