Countdown to The Draft
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By Tony Grossi
Extra Points …
The Daboll factor: When he served as Eric Mangini’s offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll helped orchestrate two of the Browns’ biggest upset victories with the use of some well-timed trick plays on offense.
Daboll dialed up the Wildcat with Josh Cribbs for some big yardage in a 13-6 win over Pittsburgh in 2009. There was also a funky pass play involving both quarterbacks Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace in a 30-17 win over New Orleans in 2010. (Coincidentally, both Pittsburgh and New Orleans were NFL defending champions at the time the Browns defeated them.)
“Of course, we have the tape of him doing it here already. We’re aware of it,” coach Pat Shurmur said.
In Kansas City, Daboll hasn’t dabbled too much in trickeration. He has used 5-8, 170-pound receiver Dexter McCluster as a Wildcat quarterback sparingly; McCluster has run 10 times for 60 yards. There also has been one halfback option pass by Peyton Hillis.
Still, the Browns are on guard. At 2-10, what do the Chiefs have to lose in trying a gadget play or two? Their regular offense isn’t working.
“You hope you’re prepared. It’s hard,” defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said. “He does a lot of very creative things on offense. We’ll certainly talk about it. You just don’t have time to prepare for every possible gadget play people might run. We certainly are aware of them.”
Getting to know you: Over the last three games, the tight end has returned to the Browns’ passing game.
Ben Watson (13 catches, two TDs) and Jordan Cameron (four, one) have been more productive in that stretch than at any time this season.
There’s a simple explanation: It’s taken a while for quarterback Brandon Weeden to get used to throwing to them.
“I didn’t have (tight ends) at Oklahoma State, so I’m just now learning how to use those,” Weeden said. “They are a nice asset for a quarterback, especially those two guys. They have been outstanding all season long.”
Throwing to tight ends figures to be a larger part of Weeden’s game over time, another area in which his game should expand as his career develops.
“As time goes along, he’ll get to be a quarterback where those types of routes are some of his favorites,” Shurmur said. “You tend to favor things that you’re having success with.”
The Haden effect: Joe Haden’s impact on the secondary has been measured in a couple of ways – the team’s 0-5 record when Haden hasn’t played, the inordinate number of turnovers with Haden in the lineup (20) vs. without him (six).
Another way is to watch how quarterbacks throw away from Haden. In Oakland, Carson Palmer shied from throwing at Haden’s coverage and turned his attention to Sheldon Brown. The result was one one of Brown’s most productive games as a Brown – five tackles, four pass breakups and the game-sealing interception in the fourth quarter.
Will throwing away from Haden be the trend over the last four games?
“I don’t know where it will go,” Jauron said. “Clearly, if they were going to go away from him they are going to go at Sheldon and they’ll probably think that one over. That didn’t work out so good (in Oakland).
“I thought Sheldon just played a terrific game out there in every area. He tackled. He defended the thrown ball. He had pass breakups and a big interception. We’ll just have to see what people want to do.”
With the apparent return of cornerback Dimitri Patterson and safety Usama Young from injuries, Jauron will have his entire roster of defensive backs intact for the first time all season. The coaches would not say whether Patterson would return to his spot as the nickel cornerback (ahead of Buster Skrine). Patterson has missed the past seven games with a high ankle sprain.
At 33, Brown is one of the oldest starting cornerbacks in the NFL. Jauron was asked on Thursday if, in fact, Brown is the slowest member of the secondary, too.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “I remember when David Brown, the great cornerback that I was fortunate to work with late in his career … I remember talked to coach (Lindy) Infante about him. Coach wondered what he ran the 40 in. Then we both agreed we’d just assume not know. It doesn’t make any difference because for some reason you just couldn’t beat him. Let’s not worry about what he runs the 40 in. He just knows how to play.”
|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 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to email@example.com
Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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