Saturday, October 3, 2009
Walker's weekend mailbag: Browns woes
By James Walker
Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker
A ton of Cleveland Browns fans are angry, confused and frustrated this week with the direction of their team.
With that said, let’s dig into weekend mailbag and answer some of their questions.
Greg from Cleveland writes: James, what does this mean for the Cleveland Browns the rest of the season now that Eric Mangini went to Derek Anderson?
James Walker: Greg, the only person who knows for sure what this means is Mangini. He said this summer that he would stick to his quarterback decision then reneged after three games. So it's hard to say what the plan is in Cleveland moving forward. It’s pretty safe to assume both quarterbacks have a short leash. Anderson can earn more starts by playing well, but if he doesn't this could be a week-to-week quandary.
Mark from Cary, N.C., wants to know what’s the deal with Browns rookie receiver Brian Robiskie.
James Walker: Robiskie has been inactive so far because he hasn’t wowed the coaching staff in practice and doesn’t play on any special teams. This is one of the bigger mysteries in Cleveland, because Robiskie was considered polished and the Browns’ offense couldn’t do much worse. But for some reason Robiskie hasn't done enough to earn his way on the field.
Craig from Akron wonders at what point do the Browns stop looking at the QB as the problem and examine the play calling and other personnel.
James Walker: This is a good point, Craig. The play calling has been just as bad as the quarterback play, and I think both are closely tied together. It’s hard to explain a quarterback sneak on 1st-and-10, for instance. The Browns also are very predictable and it’s made it easy for defenses to stop them. The move to Anderson was made, in part, with the assumption Cleveland will challenge the Bengals vertically on Sunday. So it will be interesting to see if the Browns suddenly go wild with the play calling.
Greg from Cleveland writes: James, I see you picked the Bengals to beat the Browns 24-14. What makes you think the Browns will actually score 14 points?
James Walker: There’s a couple reasons I think the Cleveland’s offense could marginally improve Sunday, Greg. First, the Browns are playing at home, and players often say crowd noise on the road can impact communication and execution offensively. If you look at all three games, Cleveland’s execution was at its worst on the road in Denver and Baltimore. I think it will be a little better in a quiet stadium. Second, the Browns are going to take more shots downfield with Anderson as I mentioned earlier. So I expect more passing yards but also a larger risk for turnovers. But would Browns fans really be happy with 14 points?
Joe in Cincinnati wants to know if Cincinnati Bengals fans should be concerned with long-snapper Brad St. Louis.
James Walker: Good question, Joe. You know AFC North fans are paying attention when they care about their team’s long-snapper. St. Louis has been consistent for a long time in Cincinnati but had issues in two of the team’s three games so far. According to Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, St. Louis has been fine in practice. But the snap last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers was one of the worst I’ve seen in person for an extra point. Cincinnati is doing the right thing by letting St. Louis work his way through this funk. He deserves a pass for now due to his years of quality play.
James from Washington, D.C., (Stand up!) wants to know what effect will trading Prescott Burgess to the New England Patriots have on Sunday’s game.
James Walker: The Patriots cut Burgess this week but certainly not before they took information from him on Baltimore’s defense. It will help New England to a degree, but teams watch so much film that opponents have a pretty good feel for schemes already. Baltimore may have to change some of its signals and audibles that Burgess was privy to. But in the end, it really comes down to execution and calling the right plays at the right time.
Mani from Houston, Texas, wants to know which is a more troubling trend: The Pittsburgh Steelers not putting teams away late or their defensive struggles?
James Walker: Both concerns are related, but if I had to pick one I would say not putting opponents away late in games. A majority of NFL games are decided in the fourth quarter. Last year Pittsburgh made most of those clutch plays down the stretch. This year the team is not, and that’s a major concern for the Steelers. As far as the defensive struggles, I think safety Troy Polamalu’s return will help in a lot of areas.