By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
The Morning Kickoff …
2013 in review: With Mike Pettine’s staff now complete, the Browns’ new coaches are using this time before the NFL combine Feb. 19-25 to evaluate the players they inherit. They are reviewing every play of every player from game video of the 4-12 2013 season.
This is another in our series reviewing the team’s position groups.
Position: Offensive line.
Players under contract (through year): Chris Faulk (2015), Reid Fragel (2015), Garrett Gilkey (2016), John Greco (2017), Jason Pinkston (2014), Mitchell Schwartz (2015), Joe Thomas (2018), Martin Wallace (2015).
Players not under contract: Oniel Cousins, Shawn Lauvao, Alex Mack,
Total snaps (incl. special teams): Mack, 1,169; Schwartz, 1,169; Thomas, 1,169; Greco, 970; Lauvao, 778; Cousins, 373; Pinkston, 164; Gilkey, 107; Wallace, 1; Fragel, 0; Faulk, 0.
Games started: Mack, 16; Schwartz, 16; Thomas, 16; Greco, 14; Lauvao, 11; Cousin, 4; Pinkston, 2; Gilkey, 1.
Analysis: This unit has been uncannily intact for two years now. Three starters – Thomas, Mack and Schwartz -- have not missed a single snap in those two seasons. The only lineup changes have been at guard, and those weren’t catastrophic. Cousins, the No. 3 right guard, had to start the first four games due to injuries to Lauvao and Pinkston. Cousins struggled in the first two games – both losses. Once Lauvao and then Pinkston returned, the line stablilized. In pass-blocking, the line had sporadic success, depending on which quarterback was behind center. Run-blocking was not a strong suit. In the absence of a lead-blocking fullback, short-yardage plays were difficult to convert. There were only four touchdowns on the ground. Also, perimeter blocking and screen-blocking were problematical because of the absence of guards who could get out into space. Despite the continuity, GM Mike Lombardi appeared to be setting up a future overhaul by hording developmental players such as Faulk, Fragel, Gilkey and Wallace. The coaching change and addition of coordinator Kyle Shanahan could result in a quicker overhaul than anticipated. First, Mack and Lauvao are free agents, and both are expected to leave. Shanahan favors lighter guards in his zone-blocking scheme. Faulk, who spent his rookie season on IR mending a torn ACL, was earmarked to push Schwartz for the starting right tackle spot. Mack’s heir was being groomed at the bottom of the roster. But Patrick Lewis, a Green Bay September roster cut who was kept on the regular roster for the first 11 weeks, was demoted to the practice squad in December and then signed by Jacksonville in the 16th week. It’s possible the team could be looking for three new starters in 2014.
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|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to email@example.comFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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