One of the toughest parts about the lockout is that teams with new coaches and new systems are not allowed to get into camp and start implementing their schemes. That is true for the Cleveland Browns in the worst way, as they are transitioning to a new offense as well as a new defense under new coordinator Dick Jauron.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer had a chance to talk to Jauon about the offseason, and it’s clear from his words that the lockout is hurting the team. The only thing to do now is hope that cooler heads prevail:
“We have work to do,” new defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said. “I suspect that’s why we’re all here [meeting without players]. There’s work to be done. We’re looking forward to try and get it done. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance soon.”
The Browns are obviously switching to the 4-3 defensive alignment, and they began the rebuild by drafting Phil Taylor in the first round. Jauron said Taylor was the player they wanted from the moment they made the deal with Atlanta:
“We’re glad we did. I guess that’s the way I’d put it,” Jauron said. “He’s a player we’d talked about going in. I know Tom [Heckert] and Mike [Holmgren] really liked him. So that was kind of the plan. The rest is kind of revisionist history. If we didn’t, what would have happened? I think we’d still have a good draft, but it would have been disappointing for us at the moment, because that’s a guy we had targeted.”
Jauron also talked about the revamped Browns secondary, one that included two high picks last year (Joe Haden and T.J. Ward), players who broke out as solid contributors. Jauron hinted that the Browns would be looking to free agency to solve the team’s void at free safety:
“We need to keep looking and add players when we can, when we’re able to get back into this thing. And we need to get our guys in and learn about them, particularly the backup players from a year ago. T.J. [Ward], we know. Joe [Haden], we know. Sheldon [Brown], we know. Eric (Wright) had a tremendous year the year before. We’ve got to get him back and get to work. The rest we have to get to know and see what we have. And once business starts up again, keep looking.”
All of this being said, it’s probably better that the Browns are making the switch to the 4-3 as opposed to the 3-4. Most kids in college come from 4-3 systems, and it’s a lot easier to make the adjustment than moving to a 3-4 like the Houston Texans are doing.
The Browns showed last year that they can compete with the best in the league (wins against New Orleans and New England consecutively) and the 2011 season will show how much they truly built off of that.