Tag:Jerome Harrison
Posted on: June 3, 2009 5:20 pm

The Audacity of Hope


It’s the one thing we as football fans can always depend on. As sure as the sun sets over Lake Erie each night, we can depend on a new season bringing hope for the city’s beloved football team.

Unfortunately, this hope creates anxiety in Browns fans, which leads to optimism and ultimately frustration. That frustration mounts over the years, creating a black hole of disappointment and later, hatred. Eventually that hatred brews and festers until it manifests itself and eventually the unthinkable happens:

They convert into Steelers fans.

Browns fans, I bring you good news today – this year will be different. Expectations will be met, and you will see a Browns team worthy of your praise and adoration. Head coach Eric Mangini will deliver on the promise of a better tomorrow, and the Cleveland Browns will field a competitive football team.

…Or at least I hope so.

While the NFL remains as unpredictable as ever, there are several measurable goals we as Browns fans can expect from this year’s incarnation of the football team.

The Browns will NOT make the playoffs in 2009.

Let’s not kid ourselves, this team is still a year away from playoff contention. Despite his work ethic and his passion for football, Eric Mangini cannot perform miracles. Until I see Eric Mangini turning water into Gatorade on the sidelines, my playoff expectations shall remain dormant.

The reason?

For one, the AFC North is one of the toughest divisions in football. Defensive juggernauts in Baltimore and Pittsburgh will undoubtedly impede any 2008 Dolphin-like progress the team may see. Anything can happen in the NFL, but some things are more realistic than others. While the Browns should be much improved from the team we saw in 2008, it is unlikely that improvement will land them a playoff birth.

Cleveland will rank in the top 10 in terms of fewest penalties committed.

Regardless of how the Browns fare on either side of the ball, Cleveland will field one of the most disciplined teams in professional football. One of the hallmarks of an Eric Mangini coached football team is an emphasis on execution and a minimization of self-inflicted wounds.

From 2006 to 2008, Eric Mangini’s Jets ranked third, second, and sixth overall terms of fewest penalties committed in a season.

Eric Mangini has already put measures in place to ensure the Browns continue the positive trends he started in New York. Players routinely learn and practice through noise in OTAs. Those who commit “mental errors” such as false starts and turnovers are forced to run laps as atonement for their mistakes. Such practices will undoubtedly allow the Browns to function and remain competitive against the toughest of competition.

The Browns will win at least 7 games this season.

It’s hard to predict wins and losses, and it’s even harder to do so accurately, but the Cleveland Browns should find a way to win at least 7 games this season. Contrary to popular belief, this team is not the rebuilding project their 2008 record seems to suggest. Many players from the 2007 season (in which the Browns finished 10-6) are still with the team.

Defensively speaking, the Cleveland should be much improved from the team that finished 28th overall in total defense. Another year in the books means more experience for the promising D’Qwell Jackson along with cornerbacks Brandon McDonald and Eric Wright. Defensive lineman Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams have played their first full year in the 3-4 defense, and that experience may prove invaluable heading into the 2009 season. All of these factors will enable the Browns to field a competitive football team that finishes right around the .500 mark.

Jerome Harrison will have an expanded role on offense.

There will be more #35 in 2009.

Since he was hired as head coach, Eric Mangini has taken the players and systems he developed in New York and transitioned them directly into Cleveland. So far, the Browns have used similar draft philosophies, players, and personnel from Eric Mangini’s past.

Assuming these trend continues, the Cleveland Browns’ offense should look very similar to that of the 2008 New York Jets.

Last year with the Jets, Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was part of an offensive system which featured the thunder and lightning combo of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. In this system, the speedy Washington received 123 touches (76 attempts plus 47 receptions) while accounting for 18% of the Jets' carries.

Under former Browns coordinator Rob Chudzinski, Jerome Harrison received 46 touches (34 attempts plus 12 receptions) while accounting for a mere 8% of Browns carries.

Daboll and Mangini have placed an emphasis on the change of pace running back, and that should benefit not only Harrison, but the Browns’ running game as a whole.

Posted on: November 30, 2008 7:31 pm

Part 1: Fixing the Cleveland Browns' Offense

Out of sheer frustration, I've decided to break down the Cleveland Browns in a two part series. The first part will take a look at the Browns' offense and what they need to focus on heading into 2009.

On offense, the problem starts with personnel. The Browns would be an infinitely better team if they only took advantage of their players' strengths. I've said it before and I maintain my original position - there is tons of talent and potential hidden throughout this team. What's been killing the Browns this season is failing to maximize that talent and turn it into production.

Rob Chudzinski and the Browns' coaching staff are stubborn. Chudzinski's greatest weakness as a coordinator is his inability to adapt. Like trying fitting a square peg into a round hole, Chud continuously takes the offensive personnel on this team and applies them to his system - regardless if they properly fit. There are two great examples in Jamal Lewis and Kellen Winslow. Jamal's running style and and lack of ellusiveness make him best suited for two-back sets. Jamal cannot create on his own - so a fullback is absolutely necessary for him to have any success in this system. Seeing the Browns have one of the best run-blocking fullbacks in the NFL, it's common sense to use the two together - but no. Lewis constantly runs out of singleback sets and stretch plays.

Kellen Winslow is a receiver blessed with the size and strength to play tight end. Winslow has the speed to go with arguably the best set of hand in the NFL. Such a dynamic game-changing player should be the focal point of the Browns' offense. Winslow needs between 10-15 targets per game to best utilize the talent he brings to the roster. Kellen Winslow is a Terrell Owens or Larry Fitzgerald type who can constantly win regardless of coverage. For Kellen average 4.3 receptions per game to this point is a joke.

What the Browns need to do offensively is establish an identity, and that starts with the running game.

Based on the personnel available on this roster, the Cleveland Browns are best suited running an aerial-based possession style of offense. Since the Browns have finally committed to Brady Quinn as the future quarterback, it is essential to build the offense around his strengths and weaknessess. Quinn has shown the ability to make good decisions and accurate throws in the short to mid-range passing game. It is critical for Phil Savage, the head coach, and Rob Chudzinski to build the offense around Brady Quinn. This means, the running backs, fullbacks, tight ends, and wide receivers all need the necessary skillsets to support that offensive philosphy.

In a west-coast type passing attack, running backs H-backs, and fullbacks must be able to catch the ball out of the backfield and possess the ability to create yards after the catch. Such a system obviously favors a feature back like Jerome Harrison, who has continuously proven he posesses big play ability and the speed necessary to thrive in such a scheme.

Since Harrison is a relatively smaller back (5'9, 205lbs), the Browns would need a short yardage back to compliment Harrison's speed and agility. Enter Lawrence Vickers. I've said it before, but Vickers is a sensational talent. He has the hands to become part of the passing attack, the size (6'0, 250lbs) to gain the tough yards, and the vision to remain an excellent lead blocker. The Browns would be best served to use Lawrence Vickers in conjunction with Jerome Harrison to form a running back tandem. Together, the two runners give the Browns unlimited options for creativity in the running game alone. The split back formation, the strong-I formation, and the weak-I formations would become base sets for the Browns. The conversion of the offense would be a tremendous aide in pass protection - an area the Browns have struggled with from the running back position.

Staying with the offense, the wide receiver play is paramount to a successful offense - regardless of the change in philosophy. Speed and consistency are a huge part of the short-range passing game, so players like Braylon Edwards and Syndric Steptoe should be counted on to get open and use their ability to create after the catch.

Offense Review
  • Kellen Winslow 10-15 targets per game
  • Build around Brady Quinn's strengths
  • Harrison/Vickers running back tandem
  • Continuous solid wide receiver play

Thank you to everyone for reading. Keep an eye out for the second of this two part series entitled, "Fixing the Cleveland Browns' Defense."
Posted on: November 18, 2008 4:34 am
Edited on: November 18, 2008 4:50 am

Week 11: Wagons Successfully Circled

Dear Diary,

Tonight I had the extreme displeasure of watching the Cleveland Browns take on the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football. I thought my Browns would come out and play hard in front of the nation, but I was wrong... oh so very wrong.
We won the game, Diary. I should be happy. I should be excited. This win puts us at 4-6, which allows for another week of finger-crossing and misguided hope for delusional diehards like myself. I should be thrilled...but I'm not. The Cleveland Browns played such a poor game on both sides of the ball that I feel nothing but disappointment and frustration after watching the game.

Oh Diary, I just don't know how much more of this relationship I can take! Every week the Browns and I go through this. They're so sweet at times and yet...they always find ways to let me down. Just when I'm ready to break it off and call it quits for good, this team does just enough to keep my by their side. Mother tells me to forget about the playoffs and move on, but I just can't! I know they are a good team deep down inside, and all that's left for them to prove it.


My therapist suggests I explore any feelings of angst and depression in this diary. For the sake sanity, here it goes:

The Good
  • Jerome Harrison: Harrison showed exactly what Browns fans have been clamoring about for the past few weeks. On his 72-yard touchdown run, Harrison showed the great vision and speed necessary for an NFL running back. Harrison's touchdown run on prime time television may have opened the eyes of those not already familiar with his talent. Running back tandems or committees are becoming quite popular in today's NFL. Jacobs and Ward...White and Williams... the change in dynamic between runners is quite effective, and hopefully Rob Chudzinski will recognize this in upcoming weeks.
  • Turnover Differential: The cardinal rule in professional football states if you turn the ball over 4 times or more, you will lose the game. Trent Edwards' three interceptions along with Fred Jackson's fumble proved the old adage correct. Here's an astounding statistic: after this game, the Cleveland Browns rank 3rd overall with a +8 turnover differential. While the team may have its problems, if they maximize takeaways and minimize giveaways, they will eventually have success...or at least I hope so.
  • Penalties and Game Management: Breaking news! Romeo Crennel challenged a play...and won! It took 10 weeks, potentially backbreaking field position, and Brady Quinn's statistical line, but Crennel finally let go of that red flag and it couldn't have come at a better time. Even better, the Browns minimized the self-inflicted wounds - only committing two penalties for 15 yards. Timeout management wasn't bad, and Romeo managed the clock well enough to take a charity win courtesy of the Buffalo Bills.
  • Shaun Rogers: If you haven't already, please go here to cast your ballot for the 2009 Pro Bowl.
The Bad
  • Andra Davis: To put it simply, Andra did not have a good game. He missed several open field tackles - including one that should have saved the Browns from a Marshawn Lynch touchdown run. He took a poor angle to the ball carrier on several long rushing plays. He showed poor instincts and awareness on gap assignments in the running game. While he did display soft hands on the interception, Davis did far more to hurt this defense than help them today.
  • Tackling: Football is a game of blocking and tackling. It always has and always will be. If a team struggles so mightily with one of the most basic elements of the game, they have no chance whatsoever of being successful. Just for fun, I tried counting all the missed tackles by Cleveland Browns defenders. I couldn't keep up. It wouldn't be fair to blame the coaching staff, because players were in position to make plays. I do blame Kamerion Wimbley, Andra Davis, Willie McGinest, and Corey Williams for that. Those players showed a lack of aggression engaging and shedding would-be blockers. Such a passive approach to football is reason for change. This cannot continue.
  • Pass Protection Adjustments: Overall, the Browns did not necessarily do a bad job of pass protection, but it wasn't good either. I recall several times during the game where Kawika Mitchell was afforded a free lane to the quarterback. Hank Fraley and the guys up front did as good a job as they could picking up the stunts and overloads, but it could have been better.
  • Jamal Lewis: I've been critical of his style of running for quite some time now, and last night's game should show you just exactly why. Lewis demonstrated exactly what not to do as a feature back. Running backs are taught to make one cut and then go. Unfortunately for us, poor Jamal thinks he's Barry Sanders out there and tip-toes around in the backfield. He takes short choppy steps in an attempt to generate forward momentum. That sort of approach may have worked 4 years ago, but Lewis is a completely different tailback now. Oh, and by the way: Jamal Lewis quit in pass protection.
  • Points Off Turnovers: Trent Edwards threw three first quarter interceptions setting up the Browns on their 48, Buffalo's 49, and Buffalo's 12 yard line. How is it possible to only walk away with 6 points after all this? I guarantee an average team is up by 13 at the end of the quarter. I understand Brady Quinn is still young, but such offensive ineptitude is unacceptable. 
The Ugly
  • Special Teams Coordinator Ted Daisher: Congratulations, Ted - you stand alone as this week's goat. Why Ted, why? Why did you continuously kick to the most dangerous part of the Buffalo Bills' team? My goodness! You would think someone who has the most dynamic return man in the game would understand the value of special teams! They say the definition of stupidity is making the same mistake over and over again. If so, then Ted Daisher is truly a stupid man. Leodis McKelvin completely abused the kickoff coverage unit on the opening play for 40 yards. He did it again for another 40. After seeing this - what does Daisher do? Kick it to him again, of course! Aye...

Well Diary, there isn't much left to say. While I feel better about the win as well as Jerome Harrison, I didn't like what I saw from my football team at all. I fear this team is years away from being great. While I do still love the Browns, I honestly don't know how much longer I can wait for my ring. Afterall, I only have so many more years left! Until I see some commitment from this team to fundamentally sound football, we may need some time apart. Let's hope next week will be better!


P.S. - I miss Derek Anderson!
Posted on: November 7, 2008 12:28 am
Edited on: November 7, 2008 1:41 am

Week 10: The Drive...Part II

Why does this have to happen to us? Why?

Seriously. Somebody please tell me why Cleveland is so cursed?

I feel sick. I feel frustrated. I feel upset. There are so many jumbled up emotions running through me as a die-hard Browns fan that I don't know where to start. Let's see if we can sort this whole thing out while I take a minute to calm my nerves...

The Good
  • Brady Quinn: Brady Quinn was as good as advertised. If there is one thing to take away from this crushing defeat, it is the play of our young quarterback. Quinn showed accuracy and great decision making tonight. He showed fantastic poise in the pocket and played within himself to his strengths. Considering Quinn will only get better of time, you have to be pleased with what you saw out of him. While doing some pre-game research, I stumbled upon this quote from Charlie Weis, "Quinn's pinpoint accuracy will make up for any questions of arm strength." In one regard, Charlie was dead on. Quinn was able to sustain drives by using his sure-handed tight ends across the middle of the field.
  • Jerome Harrison: For weeks Browns fans have been scratching their heads as to why Harrison is utilized more in the offensive gameplan. Today we saw why. Harrison finished the game with 5 carries for 48 yards. Yes, that's not a typo: Fourty-eight yards on five carries. Wow. I feel confident the Browns will be able to function effectively in the case of injury to Jamal Lewis. Maybe even better than normal...
  • Josh Cribbs: M3talhead mentioned Josh Cribbs is the most valuable asset on this roster, and it's hard to argue with him. Cribbs did an admirable job in the return game, performed well in kick coverage, and provided huge gains on the ground offensively. Whenever the Browns needed a big play, Josh Cribbs was there. Without a doubt Captain Cribbs is this team's first half MVP.
The Bad
  • The Secondary/Pass Defense: I should have seen this coming a mile away. The Browns defensive backs have looked good at times, but they never were able to put together a complete effort. Antwaan Randle-El tourched us. T.O. tourched us. Santonio Holmes torched us. Matt Jones torched us. At this point in the season, our burnt up secondary is darker than Shaun Rogers at a family reunion.
  • Braylon Edwards: This one is relative. Braylon was poised to have a big game against a banged-up Denver pass defense. He committed a false start penality - something inexcusable for a wide receiver in the NFL. In the season-deciding game, Braylon converted 7 looks into 1 catch for 15 yards. Pathetic.
The Ugly
  • The Drive...Part II: The Cleveland Browns scored a touchdown to go up 27 to 30 with 4:57 left to play. Before Dawson kicked it off, I sent this text message to my good friend Chris:
"OMG the drive is going to repeat itself...Turn off the TV!"

How painful was that to watch? I mean, I can't even imagine how those poor souls at the stadium must have felt watching John Elway Jay Cutler systematically march down the field knowing the inevitable was going to happen. I'm going to conduct a poll, because I'd be willing to bet 80% of Browns fans knew exactly what was coming.

That's not right. It's not right at all.

During my week 10 preview, I asked Brady Quinn for a little bit of magic:

Brady Quinn,

Do your best and help this team win the game. Do it...

...for the seasoned fans, who vividly remember the heartbreak of years past.

...for the young fans, who only see the Browns for failure and misery.

...for the doubters, who believe there is no hope for the future.

...for the cynics, who have no reason left to believe.

...for your family, who has raised you to become the man you are today.

...for the your team, who needs to win in order to stay alive.

But most importantly Brady, do it for the city of Cleveland. We will show up on Thursday in droves to support you and the team, so make this Thursday night game a memory we will not forget.

Well...at least he got part of it right: This is a game memory that I will never forget.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com