I wish real life was Madden. Not that it would make the Browns any better, but I could run the team the way I think would work. I could fire Eric Mangini and the other coordinators, except Rob Ryan and his awesomness. I would bring in someone who could actually coach, and a young and creative offensive coordinator to come up with a scheme that is truly unique to the Browns style of play, or what I think it should be. We are a AFC North team, traditionally, like the Steelers, we should pound the ball on the ground and shove the ball down people’s throats.
The state of the Browns is pretty abysmal right now, I’m not saying I could fix it, but here are some things I would set in motion to change our fortunes:
Solidify that O-line. Joe Thomas and Alex Mack are pretty much amazing. That leaves the LG, RG and RT positions to be fixed. I would trade the overrated John Steinbeck and try and get a couple middle round draft picks for him. Then I would draft and bolster that line, piece by piece it could transform into a very solid line with the anchors already established at LT and C.
Wide Receivers. It looks like we might be set for the future at Wide Out if Brian Robiskie and Mohammed Massaqoi improve and excel. Outside of them and Josh Cribbs, who I would feature much, much more in the receiving game, I would look to offload the other receivers on the team and look to add to them with a good veteran in free agency. I solid, older Wide Out who can teach them the finer aspects of being a NFL WR.
Running Back: Cut Jamal Lewis. No hard feelings, but he is just eating a roster spot that could be used for someone more useful. I would say that I would throw in James Davis as the feature back, but that is not possible right now so for the time being I would give Jerome Harrison 20 carries a game and spell him with Chris Jennings. I would also look to run Josh Cribbs more, not necessarily out of the wildcat, but as a halfback or go with some formations with both him and Harrison in the backfield so the defense has no idea who to try and stop. Maybe that really good 1st round pick this year could be used on a promising young HB rather then trading down 25 times in the first round like last year. Michael Crabtree would have looked GREAT in a Cleveland Jersey.
Defense: I actually really like a lot of the players we have in place on the defensive side of the ball. Abe Elam and Brodney Pool are both effective safeties, but it would be smart to draft or sign a couple other good safeties to spell them and throw in on important passing downs. Cornerback is a problem area sometimes, others its not. I would definetly keep Eric Wright. He is a stud. But I would see how Coye Francies handles the #2 job and use Brandon McDonald as a Nickelback. I would look to draft a shut down corner in the 2nd or 3rd round of the draft also to give Wright a talented young buddy on the other side of the field. Linebacker is a pretty solid spot on the defense when healthy. D’Qwell Jackson is all around amazing, as is Kamerion Wimbley now that he seems to have gotten things figured out. David Veikune and Kaluka Miava both looked really good in the Monday Night Football loss to the Ravens and are promising young talents. Another guy who we missed on last year in the draft and would have been really nice to have is Ray Maualuga… Eric Barton is another good cog in the middle of the Defense, but it would not stop me from signing another big time linebacker or drafting one in the early rounds. The D-Line needs to improve. Shaun Rogers cannot do everything, although he can come close. I would get another solid Nose Tackle because we all know he won’t be here forever, and look to sign Jacob Ford from the Titans in the offseason if he becomes a free agent. Other then that, it is another area to improve through drafting or trading.
Quarterback….. is this a position on our team? I didn’t notice anyone playing it this year. 😦 In all seroiusness, I would do what Mangini is doing now and let Quinn play, but I would take a few wrinkles out of the offense and see what he can do in a consistent scheme. Trade Derek Anderson and his stupid contract, and look to maybe, just maybe, draft a QB in the first 3 or 4 rounds of the draft this year and see what we can find.
Tight End. Pretty much the one position I think we are set on. We have like, 5 TE’s right? I really like Martin Rucker and think he could turn out to be one of the better pass catching TE’s in football. Steve Heiden is his usual consistent self and I have not yet been blown away by the play of Robert Royal.
OH, then there’s the highlight of our team, Dave Zastudil and Josh Cribbs on special teams. Combine them with the long snapper Pontbriand and Phil Dawson and we are pretty solid there.
Not saying that I could run an NFL team, The Browns in particular, but playing Madden 2010 inspired a column. Looks like video games aren’t so bad for me mom and dad.