Skip to main content


Browns Mailbag: How important is Josh McCown before the snap?

Six down, 10 to go.

As we've written since the close of Sunday's loss to Denver, the Browns are looking for the finishing touch they've been lacking in three of the last four games. How they felt after Baltimore is something they certainly want to recapture.

Here's what's on your mind as the Browns prepare for a tough road game at St. Louis.

Do you think Josh McCown has the ability to run the offense from the line the way Philip Rivers or Peyton Manning do? I notice he spends a lot of time in the pocket and feel like if he was reading the defenses and calling plays accordingly, he would be able to shred time off of his pocket time. I don't know that he has ever done this before or if it's even a feasible option for him but he seems to be competent enough to do something like this. And if so, do you think this has even been a thought for the Browns? -- Joe B., Youngstown

You likely won't see McCown making the mannerisms and gestures that are common from Manning and Rivers, but there's a lot happening before the snap when the 36-year-old veteran is lined up behind center Alex Mack.

Never was it more important than Cleveland's overtime win at Baltimore. Offensive tackle Joe Thomas sat at his locker and raved about McCown's ability to check into the right play and make the necessary pre-snap adjustments that played a big part in his historic passing day.

"He's able to get us into the right thing if we give him the option to line up in shotgun, to either hand it off if it's a good look or throw it outside if that's a good look," Thomas said.

Just a few days earlier, Thomas did the same even as he reflected on a tough loss to the Raiders.

"You see a bad look in the run game, and you say, 'Here we go, it's a bad look,' and all of a sudden he throws it, and you're like, 'thank goodness he got us out of a bad play,'" Thomas said. "It's extremely valuable."

Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo wouldn't reveal just how often McCown has a run-pass option when he steps up to the line of scrimmage, but it's clear there's a strong level of trust between the two. That relationship was formed in 2007, when DeFilippo and McCown worked together in Oakland, and has been strengthened as both came together this season much more experienced in their respective positions.

"It is more than a few," DeFilippo said. "It is great that he sees the field. A couple of those were in crucial situations where we really needed a play to get us back into manageable situations on third down. I think those plays when you see Josh making those types of plays that is why you saw us (at Baltimore) have the success we did on third down was because we got back into manageable."

As for McCown's willingness to hang in the pocket sometimes longer than he should, the Browns like that instinct. It may result in a few more sacks than Cleveland would like to stomach, but it's also one of the reasons why he's been one of the NFL's best on third downs through six games.

The best photos of the week, featuring highlights from the game on Sunday, the halftime recognition of Mack and Byner, and the community event on Tuesday.

Why have the Browns failed to try to trade for a wide receiver with good talent but with the height and size we really need, that wide receiver everyone seems to have but the Browns. We need a skyscraper receiver, 6-4 height, 220 lbs or larger with the ability to out-jump, out-power the tiny standard NFL corners and safeties. It's a must in this league and the height helps our quarterback find our receivers easier and creates a NBA mismatch like a guard defending a center under the rim! It just boggles the mind! -- Daniel P., Austell, Georgia

The Browns aren't the only team in the NFL without this type of receiver. The Patriots have a guy like Rob Gronkowski, but they don't have the "skyscraper receiver" you describe in this question, and they've got one of the NFL's most potent pass offenses.

Even at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, Travis Benjamin is among the NFL's top receivers in terms of yards and touchdowns. The emergence of Gary Barnidge (6-foot-6, 250 pounds) has given McCown a bona fide weapon in the red zone, and the veteran quarterback has made the most of it.

With some of the cornerbacks banged up with injury, can Justin Gilbert find some playing time and finally step up and become a be a No. 8 pick corner? -- BH, Chicago

As it stands now, Joe Haden (concussion/finger) is the only injured cornerback at the moment. Pierre Desir's hard work during the offseason and training camp has paid off, and he's filled in nicely for Haden over the past few weeks. Johnson Bademosi also took advantage of the extra snaps he received at the position while Gilbert missed a good portion of training camp with a hip flexor injury. Even though he isn't playing much at defensive back, Gilbert has been one of the Browns' best all-around players on special teams. The Browns hope that can be used as a springboard toward his work at defensive back.

Gary Barnidge is having a great year and I hope he continues this success throughout the year. However, will we see any of the rookie EJ Bibbs since he was having a very good preseason and defenses may focus more on Barnidge? -- Brian H., Kalida, Ohio

Bibbs has been inactive for all six of Cleveland's games but he remains a player who garners plenty of praise from his teammates and coaches. With Rob Housler dealing with a hamstring injury, Bibbs opportunity to contribute likely increases.

Is Robert Turbin a threat as a receiver as well as a power runner? -- Greg P., Kingman, Arizona

Turbin was targeted on one pass during his 18 snaps Sunday. In his previous three seasons, Turbin caught 43 passes for 427 yards and two touchdowns. In college, he caught 67 passes over three seasons. So, yes, he's certainly capable.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content