Thursday, November 5, 2009
Three suggestions for Cleveland's bye
By James Walker
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
The Cleveland Browns enter the bye 1-7 and in last place in the AFC North.
Here are some things the Browns can do to improve during the break:
1. Make a quarterback change
At some point, the Browns have to end this run of quarterback futility with Derek Anderson, and that time is now. Anderson has the worst passer rating of any starting quarterback in the NFL with an abysmal mark of 36.2. He had a 10.2 passer rating in Cleveland's most recent loss to the Chicago Bears.
Former starter Brady Quinn, who was benched after 10 quarters, played in garbage time in Chicago. It could (and should) signal the start of another quarterback switch moving forward.
Whether you believe money played an issue in Quinn's benching is up to you to decide. But the fact is Quinn can no longer reach his 70 percent playing-time incentive. So there should be no barriers to give Quinn another shot in the second half of the season.
2. Get young WRs ready
Similar to the way the Baltimore Ravens got rookie defensive back Lardarius Webb up to speed during their bye, the Browns need to do the same with rookie receiver Brian Robiskie.
The second-round draft pick has looked lost since coming to Cleveland. Despite the reputation of being polished, Robiskie had a slow training camp and it's carried over to the regular season as he was inactive at the start and currently not productive.
Fellow rookie Mohamed Massaquoi is further along but could also work on his consistency. If this is the future of Cleveland's passing game, the coaching staff needs to put a lot of effort into making the pair better with the extra prep time.
3. Overcome distractions
When a team is in the news all week for firing its general manager just eight games into the season, it can impact a locker room. The Browns have already dealt this season with a quarterback switch and trading receiver Braylon Edwards. Add in George Kokinis' firing and it’s no surprise Cleveland is failing to maintain continuity.
The Browns need to overcome this latest distraction. Probably the biggest challenge for head coach Eric Mangini during this bye is to convince his team it's business as usual.
Players will spend some time this week away from the facility and the media, so that should help. But the Browns need to take a workmanlike approach to getting better before their next game against the Baltimore Ravens (4-3).