Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Should Browns tackle the defensive line?

The Browns need help on the defensive line – that’s no secret – and, for once, luck may be on their side as this year’s draft class is deep in defensive line talent.

If the Browns decide to pick a defensive linemen with the No. 6 pick Thursday night in the opening round of the NFL Draft, the question then becomes: do they go for a defensive end or a tackle to pair with Ahtyba Rubin inside? If they go inside, the top two tackles are Alabama’s Marcell Dareus and Auburn’s Nick Fairley.

We’d be cool with the Browns taking Dareus, who has been described as someone who “can be the backbone of an elite defensive line, and his run defense is the key. Takes momentum blocking – especially slide protection – very well. Strong enough to go against the grain and split gaps. Agile enough to redirect in space and extends the play to the sideline. Blows up piles and can be dominant in power situations.”

Unfortunately, Dareus is expected to be one of the first players off the board.

Less certain is Fairley, who makes us uneasy: “In addition to the late hits, Fairley can be drawn offside and this could be a bigger problem in the NFL when he’s dealing with quarterbacks who have great cadences and can trip up defenders with their snap counts. Concerns about his work ethic have dogged Fairley for a long time; not known to be a gym rat or an exceptionally interested student of the game.”

Does that really sound like someone we want the Browns to take a chance on?

No, it does not.*

***

“Potential major violations”

“failed to deport himself … [with] honesty and integrity”

“violated ethical-conduct legislation”

Not the kinds of things you generally want to hear about your football coach, but that’s what Ohio State is hearing about Jim Tressel after the NCAA presented its notice of allegations to the school about Tressel lying to cover up violations of seven players.

The NCAA also warned that it could treat Ohio State as a repeat offender stemming from the violations involving former quarterback Troy Smith, who took $500 from a booster and former men’s basketball coach Jim O’Brien, who gave $6,000 to a recruit.

Repeat offenders face post-season bans, the entire coaching staff could be suspended and the school could lose scholarships, according to NCAA rules.

Uh-oh, somebody is in big trouble.

Former Ohio State quarterback and current ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who had to move out of state because the hoopleheads in Columbus couldn’t handle him telling the truth, summed up the current situation perfectly.

“The Ohio State fan base blindly is supporting Ohio State and Jim Tressel. It’s almost gotten to the point that he beats Michigan, he wins 10 games, he goes to BCS bowl games, they’ll support him no matter what he does as far as the fan base,” Herbstreit told ESPN. “If this would have happened to John Cooper [Herbstreit’s coach], not only would they have fired him, they would have actually lined it up and had a firing squad and fired him.”

Hmmm, you’d think someone who wraps themselves in the cloak of Christianity, like Tressel repeatedly does, would have known right from wrong.

***

Reason No. 152 why we are so very glad the Browns didn’t make the mistake of hiring Jon Gruden as head coach comes from Peter King, writing in his Monday Morning QB column.

King tries to answer the question that has puzzle many of us: why does everyone treat Gruden as some kind of quarterback guru?

I think in the wake of Jon Gruden sitting with quarterbacks and working out quarterbacks and examining their mental and physical games, this has been the common question: If Gruden is so good with young quarterbacks, why didn’t he ever develop a great one himself?

In his second year as Raider coach in 1999, he got the kind of quarterback he felt was best to win with immediately, Rich Gannon. Early in his Buc tenure, he duplicated that with Brad Johnson. Two veteran quarterbacks, both of whom Gruden used to take those teams deep into the playoffs; he won a Super Bowl, obviously, with Johnson. So that became the way he thought best to win big. Later in his Tampa term, it stopped working, and he suffered for it. Gruden’s not going to be one of the patient guys who says, “Let’s take our lumps with the young kids.” He’s going to be a win-now guy.

I also think Gruden likes to be known as the fixer, the guy who wins quicker than the other coaches. He fixed the Raiders, then got the Bucs a championship Tony Dungy never got. Gruden’s not going to be the guy who you want coaching your team for 12 years, but he’s going to be the guy who takes over a pretty good team, gives it shock therapy and a sense of urgency, and has a chance to win quickly.

The last thing the Browns need is a quick-fix guy. They need someone who will build the team in the right way. Gruden is obviously not that guy.

***

*If the Browns do end up drafting Fairley, we are 100 percent behind the pick. If the player is wearing a jersey that says Cleveland on it then we want them to succeed. We just won’t be disappointed if the Browns pass on him.

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