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News » In dark picture, use more 'Flash'

In dark picture, use more 'Flash'

In dark picture, use more 'Flash'
Nashville, Tenn. -It is called the "Flash" package, and it contains the Browns' last glimmer of hope and interest. It speaks to the team's poverty of imagination that the coaching staff used it too rarely to be a force Sunday and too predictably to be a surprise in a drab 28-9 loss to Tennessee.

Josh Cribbs, the man whose quarterbacking career for the Kent State Golden Flashes gave the package its name, should have gotten 20 "touches" Sunday against the Titans. He got 13, but six were on kick returns. In the Flash, he had seven, and six of those were rushes. Only one was a pass.

Still, Cribbs looked like a muleteer in the Oklahoma Land Rush compared to the rest of the backs. He gained 24 yards on his six carries. He would fake a handoff to fullback Lawrence Vickers at the so-called "mesh point" between the two backs, then either follow Vickers' blocking or swerve the opposite way on misdirection, running for the edge, outside the containment.

The three usual running backs, Jamal Lewis, Jerome Harrison (knocked out in the second half with a rib injury) and Jason Wright, gained 10 yards on 11 carries. The Titans are simply too big and too immovable on the defensive line to move, short of the sudden legalization of earth-grading equipment.

NFL coaches don't like to use the man who takes the shotgun snap in a trick formation as a passer because he is not a quarterback by trade. Cribbs' one pass attempt was on a simple read, a "go" route to Braylon Edwards, who could only get one foot inbounds on what was almost but not quite a 46-yard gain.

There were more rpm's on Cribbs' throw than anything slung by the team's third quarterback on the depth chart, Ken Dorsey, who was Sunday's starter. The throw was more accurate than any deep ball Dorsey threw, too, in the cold temperatures and sharp winds of LP Field.

A generation ago, the Browns had an elusive receiver / kick returner /running back named Eric Metcalf who had enough magic in his feet to make the ex-jocks and has-been starlets on "Dancing with the Stars" look like stumblebums. The goal was a score of touches a game for Metcalf. Didn't always happen, but it kept opposing coaches awake at night, wondering how to stop him.

Who on this Browns team presents such a threat, other than Cribbs?

Speaking of score, the Browns haven't on anything but field goals for three straight games. They are 13 seconds away from 13 straight quarters without a touchdown. It would seem this famine, combined with the inability of Dorsey to stretch a defense because of his weak arm, would be treated as an opportunity by offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski.

Instead, coach Romeo Crennel talked about the drawbacks of inexperience. Crennel spoke about needing to "read a defense, read the adjustments, and if they take away one side, go to the other." He said it would be unfair to put Cribbs in that position, particularly against a team with the Titans' pass rush.

Actually, a player with Cribbs' quickness and explosiveness might be a useful antidote to a strong pass rush. A pocket passer does not have a great chance when rushers can get their hands in his face and bat away his passes. When he throws fewer than a half-dozen balls all game beyond the first down stake, which was Dorsey's unofficial total, he is a duck in an arcade.

Asked if he would like to throw more, Cribbs said: "Of course. Anyone would who had been a quarterback before." He said he felt "calm in the pocket, like when I was playing O-State [Ohio State] in their national championship year."

Where was the end-around, the halfback option pass, the screen?

The Browns do not have much chance to win these days. Tight end Kellen Winslow is out, the top two quarterbacks are shelved, Edwards' hands are sieves. But they are going down without using all their weapon.

To reach Bill Livingston: blivingston@plaind.com, 216-999-4672

Previous columns online: cleveland.com/columns

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 9, 2008

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