In rookie running back William Green, the Browns have found what
they've long craved: a hard-charging slasher with a smash-mouth
mentality and also enough speed to leave defenders in his wake.
He's a devoted watcher of Walter Payton highlight tapes, and like
the late, great Sweetness, he's a determined and destructive
With Green coming in, third-year veteran Jamel White hadn't
figured on earning much playing time. White was too small and too
soft, the thinking went. But in the off-season he sculpted his
body and worked hard studying the offense. When training camp
began in July, he was the ballcarrier who opened the coaching
As a result the Browns, for the first time since returning to the
NFL in 1999, have a running game worth bragging about. They have
two runners who can grind out tough yards and deliver big plays,
the type of backs that could make Cleveland, which was 7-9 last
year, a bona fide playoff contender. It's no secret that
second-year coach Butch Davis loves running the ball, which is
why last season was so painful for him; no team had a worse
rushing attack than the Browns, who averaged 84.4 yards a game.
The 6-foot, 221-pound Green, the 16th pick in April's draft, is
supposed to change that. He will be the featured back, a
20-carries-a-game weapon. Though he was suspended for a game
during each of his last two seasons at Boston College for
violating team rules, the Browns say they love his tenacity and
focus. "I don't listen to what's being said about me," says
Green, referring to the hype that accompanied his arrival. "I'm
only concerned with getting ready for what I have to do here."
September 1, 2002
The Browns expect Green to make an easy transition to the NFL
because he's a true I-formation back and is comfortable running
out of the kind of one-back sets that Cleveland prefers. That
said, the Browns have no intention of overusing him, which is
where White enters the picture. "You look at the guys who carry
the ball 300 to 350 times a year in this league and see how fast
they wear out," says offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. "We're
not going to kill this kid [Green], especially since we have
other people who can do the job."
White, who was criticized roundly last year for not running
effectively between the tackles, added 10 pounds of muscle to
his 5'9" frame and now weighs 208. He also spent the off-season
studying the moves of St. Louis running back Marshall Faulk.
Cleveland likes White's soft hands, breakaway speed and
versatility. Still, White holds no illusions about supplanting
Green. "If you give a guy a lot of money to play, he's going to
play," says White, who began his career in '00 with Indianapolis
as an undrafted free agent but did not survive the final roster
cut. "But I can be a third-down back and a special teams player.
I can do a lot of things to help this team win."
If Green and White produce, the Browns won't have any other
significant concerns on offense. Davis bolstered a mediocre line
by signing tackle Ryan Tucker and guard Barry Stokes, a pair of
feisty free-agent run blockers. Quarterback Tim Couch, in his
fourth season, could be poised for a breakout year. He's at his
best with an offense built around play-action fakes, and he's
also comfortable in Cleveland's short-passing attack. As for
receivers, the Browns hope either Quincy Morgan or Andre' Davis,
a rookie out of Virginia Tech, emerges as a consistent complement
to Kevin Johnson.
The offense faces added pressure this season, however. A year ago
the Browns often relied on defense to win games, but that
strategy won't work as well now that Pro Bowl outside linebacker
Jamir Miller is out for the season, having torn his right
Achilles tendon in Cleveland's preseason opener. Butch Davis is
encouraged, though, by what he's seen from his offense, which he
says is not allowing the defense to dominate in practice and has
more of an edge, one that has come from an energized running
"We know that if we want to win in this league--especially in our
division--we better control the line of scrimmage and be physical
and tough," Davis says. "And when we look at what we have in the
running game, we know we've added a key piece to our
Defensive end Courtney Brown and tackle Gerard Warren won't be
side-by-side attacking offensive lines this season. Brown
remains at right end, but Warren, who in 2001 played on both the
right and left sides, will be anchored on the left. Warren, who
has an explosive mix of power and quickness, is more comfortable
rushing from the left side.
ENEMY LINES an opposing team's scout sizes up the Browns
"What jumps out is how much attitude Butch Davis has brought to
the team. Watching them on film two years ago and watching them
now is like night and day. They believe they can win.... If the
running game is productive, they have a lot of weapons. The
offensive line is solid, and the receivers are underrated.
Scouts say they don't have a Number 1 wideout, but I'd happily
take a unit with Kevin Johnson, Quincy Morgan and Andre King. If
Rickey Dudley [out most of last season after surgery on his
right foot] isn't healthy, they'll probably change how they use
their tight ends--when he's right, he can hurt defenses on deep
routes down the middle.... Tim Couch has more confidence, and
that's because Butch believes in him. You could see he was
having fun last year, and when a quarterback with his talent has
fun, you'd better look out.... On defense, adding Robert
Griffith will help. He understands the nuances of the game and
how to put himself in position to make plays.... I'm not a big
fan of [free-agent signee] Earl Holmes at linebacker. He's
coming off his second knee injury [arthroscopic surgery on his
right knee in June, sprained left knee last year], and he was
not fast to begin with. They may ask him to plug the middle
while guys on the perimeter make plays.... Up front, Gerard
Warren is going to be a player--he showed flashes last year. If
Courtney Brown is healthy, those two will be murder together."
Sept. 8 KANSAS CITY
22 at Tennessee
29 at Pittsburgh
Oct. 6 BALTIMORE
13 at Tampa Bay
27 at N.Y. Jets
Nov. 3 PITTSBURGH
10 Open date
17 at Cincinnati
24 at New Orleans
Dec. 1 CAROLINA
8 at Jacksonville
22 at Baltimore
NFL rank: T19
Opponents' 2001 winning percentage: .488
Games against playoff teams: 6
PROJECTED LINEUP with 2001 statistics
COACH: Butch Davis; second season with Cleveland (7-9 in NFL)
2001 RECORD: 7-9 (third in AFC Central)
NFL RANK (rush/pass/total): offense 31/28/31; defense 29/10/22
OFFENSIVE BACKS PVR*
QB Tim Couch 116
454 att. 272 comp. 59.9% 3,040 yds. 17 TDs 21 int. 73.1 rtg.
RB William Green (R)[N] 44
265 att. 1,559 yds. 5.9 avg. 23 rec. 260 yds. 11.3 avg. 17 TDs
RB Jamel White 222
126 att. 443 yds. 3.5 avg. 44 rec. 418 yds. 9.5 avg. 6 TDs
HB Aaron Shea 228
0 att. 0 yds. no avg. 14 rec. 86 yds. 6.1 avg. 0 TDs
RECEIVERS, SPECIALISTS, OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
WR Kevin Johnson 49 84 rec. 1,097 yds. 9 TDs
WR Quincy Morgan 211 30 rec. 432 yds. 2 TDs
WR Andre' Davis (R) [N] 263 39 rec. 623 yds. 7 TDs
TE Rickey Dudley 268 9 rec. 115 yds. 0 TDs
K Phil Dawson 252 29/30 XPs 22/25 FGs 95 pts.
PR Dennis Northcutt 360 15 ret. 5.7 avg. 0 TDs
KR Quincy Morgan 211 7 ret. 25.0 avg. 0 TDs
LT Ross Verba 6'4" 308 lbs. 15 games 15 starts
LG Shaun O'Hara 6'3" 306 lbs. 16 games 4 starts
C Dave Wohlabaugh 6'3" 292 lbs. 16 games 16 starts
RG Tre' Johnson 6'2" 326 lbs. 3 games 3 starts
RT Ryan Tucker [N] 6'5" 305 lbs. 15 games 15 starts
LE Kenard Lang [N] 50 tackles 4 sacks
LT Gerard Warren 48 tackles 5 sacks
RT Orpheus Roye 18 tackles 0 sacks
RE Courtney Brown 14 tackles 4 1/2 sacks
OLB Darren Hambrick [N] 42 tackles 0 sacks
MLB Earl Holmes [N] 83 tackles 2 sacks
OLB Dwayne Rudd 72 tackles 1/2 sack
CB Corey Fuller 70 tackles 3 int.
SS Robert Griffith [N] 46 tackles 2 int.
FS Devin Bush 43 tackles 2 int.
CB Daylon McCutcheon 65 tackles 4 int.
P Chris Gardocki 99 punts 42.9 avg.
[N] New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college year)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 98)
"Adding Robert Griffith will help. He understands how to put
himself in position to make plays."