Browns Mailbag

Browns Mailbag: How much will offense change with Josh McCown?

It's been a news-heavy week in Berea, and there are no shortage of quarterback-related queries, so let's get right to it on this gorgeous Thursday in Northeast Ohio.

How much do you expect Hue Jackson will change the Browns' offense with Josh McCown at the helm instead of RG3? -- Pat L., Richmond, Virginia

This was one of the first questions at Hue Jackson's press conference Monday, and it's understandable why it's been a prevalent theme throughout the week. Robert Griffin III and McCown are different quarterbacks and Jackson, wherever he's been, has done a great job of tailoring his offense to whomever is behind center. The Browns offense in Week 1 did not score the number of points or gain the number of yards it wanted. So fixing that, more so than making wholesale adjustments because of a new quarterback, is Cleveland's top priority heading into Week 2.

"I'm sure there are bits and pieces that will, but at the same time, he has been here through OTAs, training camp and the preseason," Jackson said Monday. "I know what he is capable of doing, and we will tailor things to him. I don't think we have to totally change our offense from what it has been."

The big thing Cleveland needs to fix on offense with McCown under center is time of possession. That means being better on third downs and establishing a consistent running game, two things it lacked against the Eagles.

McCown received significantly less repetitions with the first-team offense during the preseason than Griffin, but chemistry with receivers shouldn't be an issue. Of note, McCown and tight end Gary Barnidge were both at their best last season when they were on the field at the same time as each other. In the seven games McCown logged the majority of snaps, Barnidge averaged more than six receptions and 86 yards and scored six of his nine touchdowns. Also, during the early portion of training camp, McCown and Terrelle Pryor often hooked up on a number of long passes before Pryor was elevated to the first team.

If Josh also gets injured could there be a possibility of Terrelle Pryor getting some QB reps in? -- Andrew W., Columbus

Jackson addressed this situation Wednesday without naming Pryor by name. Pryor's progress as a receiver likely eliminates him as a contender for serious work at quarterback but makes him an option as an emergency third signal-caller behind rookie Cody Kessler.

"We have a plan in place in case we needed a third quarterback," Jackson said. "I think I got a pretty good one on the roster. I just stashed him away a little bit. He is doing other things. I'm sure you guys will figure that one out, but we will be OK."

Why not start Kessler at this point? -- Jacob B., Columbia, S.C.

This one's simple. McCown gives the Browns the best chance to win, and that's why he was the easy choice to replace Griffin when the bad news arrived. That's no knock on Kessler, a third-round rookie who didn't receive a ton of snaps during the preseason. There's real confidence in the Browns locker room with McCown, and it was never more clear than this quote from Joe Thomas.

"We are probably in the best situation of any team to be able to handle the backup quarterback coming in and being the starter for a significant amount of time," Thomas said. "You can see in preseason how badly other teams wanted Josh because of the trade rumors because of his experience as a starter. You do not find guys like that on very many rosters."

The pressure to be prepared, though, has certainly increased for Kessler, who went from being inactive Week 1 to one snap away from playing Sunday.

"Cody is doing some good things," Jackson said. "He has really improved. Every player improves with reps. The more chances you get, the better you get. The more you see things, the better you get. Cody has a few more reps this week, and he will and we will be ready to go this weekend."

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