For the next two months, likely soon-to-be ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith will dominate the conversations of Browns fans.
Hopefully that is not the case in the second-floor offices at Browns headquarters.
With the massive undertaking new coach Rob Chudzinski and defensive coordinator Ray Horton are embarking on to revamp the Browns’ defense, the team’s resources should be devoted to that side of the ball.
That means the majority of its six draft picks — including No. 6 overall. That means its salary cap space — $48.9 million at last measure, according to ESPN’s John Clayton — enough to make a splash in free agency, which begins March 12. That means possible trades. That could also mean jeopardizing the re-signing of its own free agents, like kicker Phil Dawson.
I continue to wonder why the Browns would abandon the 4-3 defense, even though Horton has been a 3-4 devotee for his 19-year coaching life. Especially when that could spell the end for some members of a defensive line that ex-General Manager Tom Heckert spent three years building into one of the team’s few strengths.
But if an attacking, multiple-front hybrid or 3-4 or whatever Chudzinkski and Horton have agreed to call it is what best serves the Browns in the long term, go for it. But without an all-out commitment, the Browns seem destined to take a step back in the win-loss column in 2013. And there’s not too far to step without falling off the ledge.
I’m not so sure that won’t happen even if the Browns go all-in on defense. Last Tuesday, Horton and Chudzinski talked about versatility and players moving around and lining up in unpredictable positions. Not only must they learn a new scheme, but it also appears they will be asked to learn new wrinkles that even outside-the-box ex-coordinator Rob Ryan never dreamed of.
When asked how long it takes to get up to speed to play multiple fronts, Horton said, “Hopefully not long. I would hope the biggest transition is terminology because if I’m a nose tackle, I’m somewhere in the vicinity of the center. If I’m an end, I’m somewhere in the vicinity of the guard or the tackle. Now, whether you line up on the outside shade, head up or the inside shade, you’ve played football before. All I’m asking my players to do is trust us as a coaching staff that we’ll put them in great positions.”
Browns must make defense top offseason priority
Akron Beacon Journal | Feb 5