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Browns Mailbag: Why should fans expect better results from the run game?

The Browns are back to work and so are we on another strong edition of the Browns Mailbag.

Let's get right to it.

I have a great deal of respect for Pettine. I understand why they sent Terrance West packing. That said, why should we expect a better result this year? Are skill players' results that much of a function of line play? - Kevin C., Half Moon Bay, Calif.

Like everything in football, this isn't a black and white issue. It's gray, and the reason for Cleveland's failure to consistently run the ball last week against the Jets is equally shared between the offensive line and running backs.

When Pettine broke down Sunday's performance inside a room underneath MetLife Stadium, he focused on the offensive line. Simply put, it wasn't a good day for a unit that aspires to be one of the league's best. Other than Joe Thomas, each of the starters had at least one costly penalty. Many of the runs made by Duke Johnson Jr. and Isaiah Crowell never had a chance because the Jets' defensive line, which helped the team rank fifth in rush defense last season, had such strong penetration.

"I think overall we didn't do a good enough job of blocking their front in order to sustain any type of rushing attack," Pettine said.

On Monday, the focus shifted a bit to the running backs. An evaluation of the film showed missed opportunities for both Crowell and Johnson, the latter of whom appeared to make something out of nothing more than Crowell in this particular game.

The debate about the value of running backs has been raging for years. Of the top 10 rushers from Week 1, two were first-round picks, four were second-rounders, one was a third-rounder and the rest were either Day 3 picks or undrafted. After a couple of years of no running backs going in the first round, two were selected on Day 1 of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Basically, it comes down to the player, the offensive line and the system. The Browns believe they have the right pieces in place in all three categories. The execution just has to be better than it was Week 1.

Any update where Josh Lenz might be heading to? Seemed like a good fit, hate to see him go elsewhere. - David R., Hubbard

According to multiple reports Tuesday, Lenz was one of nine players to try out with the New York Giants. There's no word yet on if Lenz or any of those players were offered to sign deals with the team.

Lenz is a hard worker who put together some great tape during his time with the Browns. An opportunity will arise sooner or later.

Chances of EJ Bibbs starting or playing significant minutes by Week 3 or 4? - Chris M., Ankeny, Iowa

Bibbs' hard work, dating back to early May when he arrived in Berea for rookie mini camp, was rewarded with a spot on the 53-man roster. Though he was inactive for last week's game, the team's faith in Bibbs was displayed when he remained with the squad amid a handful of transactions throughout last week. Bibbs showed he can catch the ball and make plays in space, and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo showed a willingness to incorporate his tight ends as receivers. Jim Dray, Rob Housler and Gary Barnidge were targeted a combined nine times against the Jets and came away with four receptions. We'll continue to monitor Bibbs' progress.

Why do the Browns coaches put up with all those penalties that are drive killers and kills the momentum, sometimes two or three in a row? There doesn't seem to be any discipline on that team. There's no excuse for all of those penalties. There's no self-discipline, that's evident!!! - Bill C., West Virginia

There are no excuses for a 12-penalty performance and the Browns didn't offer up any in their post-game assessment. What troubled Pettine the most was there were no signs of a lack of on-field discipline during the preseason, as the Browns were one of the NFL leaders in fewest penalties. Cleaning up this area will certainly be a point of emphasis throughout this week of practice.

If our outside linebackers continue to struggle setting the edge and stopping the run, would the coaches consider shifting any of our inside LBs outside for that purpose? Perhaps Robertson, Kirksey or maybe Carder could do a better job? - Phillip F., Santa Barbara, Calif.

The Browns will need someone to step up at the position if Scott Solomon is out for a significant amount of time with his ankle injury. That could be rookie Nate Orchard, who was inactive last week after dealing with a back injury, and Barkevious Mingo, who played a limited number of snaps against the Jets after missing most of August with a knee injury. We'd be surprised if the Browns looked to the inside linebackers room for help.

Which uniform combinations will the Browns be wearing for each of their 8 regular season home games? - Steve B., Strongsville

That will vary from week to week. Keep in mind the Browns have the option to wear an alternate jersey twice in a given season and unlimited options with pants and socks. The Cleveland Browns' Instagram and Twitter accounts will be your source for the official announcement each week.

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