At camp, Chudzinski, Grantham and Daisher outline expectations for season.
All three Browns coordinators revealed some of their plans Saturday during a lunch break sandwiched between two training camp practices.
Here’s a look at their takes.
Rod Chudzinski, Offense
Kellen Winslow Jr. dropped the “G” word. Maybe he it was just the suck-up stuff receivers do when campaigning for throws.
“He’s a genius,” the tight end said of his new coordinator, Chudzinski. On the other hand, Chudzinski was Winslow’s coordinator at Miami (Fla.) from 2001-03.
Chudzinski could only laugh.
“I haven’t been called that too much in my life,” he said. “I’ll take it.”
Chudzinski, 39, was a standout at Toledo St. John’s High School before playing tight end at Miami. He was Butch Davis’ tight ends coach at Miami from 1996-2000 and offensive coordinator under Larry Coker.
Chudzinski rejoined Davis in Cleveland in 2004. When Davis left during that season, Chudzinski became offensive coordinator, and the Browns went 1-4. He had a soft landing in San Diego, where he learned Cam Cameron’s offense and was part of a 14-2 team in 2006.
He’s installing an “attack style” offense, but he’s vague about what that means. It could mean a speed guy, such as Tim Wilson, moves ahead of a possession guy, Joe Jurevicius, on the depth chart.
Wilson was among the first players Chudzinski mentioned — not long after Braylon Edwards — when he said his system will adapt to special skills.
Chudzinski will try to keep opponents guessing. New No. 1 back Jamal Lewis loves the variety of shifts and formations Chudzinski uses, thinking foes who stack eight men in the box will be made to pay.
The jury is out on whether Lewis, though only 27, has been hit so much that he can’t get back to being an All-Pro.
“He’s leaner and lighter than he’s been,” Chudzinski said. “I think the guy’s hungry. I think he’s expecting to have a great year.”
Plenty rides on improvement of the offensive line.
“I like what’s been done with that group,” Chudzinski said. “I like how they’re coming together.”
Is Chudzinski inclined to start rookie No. 3 overall draft pick Joe Thomas at left tackle? Probably. His 2006 team, the Chargers, made hay with rookie Round 2 pick Marcus McNeill at left tackle.
At quarterback, the consensus view is that Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson are in a shootout for the No. 1 job, with Brady Quinn somewhat of a longshot, even if he signs soon.
“I wouldn’t necessarily put it in those terms,” Chudzinski said.
He’s dividing practice reps between Frye and Anderson, both taking turns running the No. 1 offense.
He spoke of Frye in glowing terms.
“Charlie is a great competitor and a fiery guy,” he said. “He can make plays with his feet. He has a knack when things break down.
“He can get the ball where he needs to be it. He works harder than anybody. He’s a pleasure to be around.”
“He’s taller and rangier,” Chudzinski said. “He’s got the big arm. He’s more of a typical pocket type quarterback.”
Todd Grantham, Defense
Adding veterans Ted Washington and Willie McGinest was supposed to help Grantham improve on his strong 2005 debut as an NFL coordinator. So was drafting Kam¬er¬ion Wimbley and D’Qwell Jackson in the first two rounds.
Yet, the 2006 Browns gave up 356 points, 55 more than the ’05 team allowed.
Opponents gained 344.8 yards a game, clearly worse than the 316.8 a year earlier.
Maybe it was a cornerback thing. The Browns were ravaged by injuries at the key position, forcing Grantham to relax into a bend-and-try-not-to-break approach.
Grantham’s bosses gave him a pass. In June, the 40-year old former Virginia Tech lineman signed a contract extension.
At cornerback, rookie Eric Wright is supposed to have first-round talent. Leigh Bodden expects to break through after a 2006 wrecked by ankle woes. Free-agent Ken¬ny Wright has started opposite Bodden while the other Wright begins to work his way up.
Does Grantham have the guys to allow him to play more man coverage and give the run defense a better chance?
“We’re OK,” Grantham said. “As we go through training camp, we’ll test ’em on that. And we’ll mix it up.”
Grantham concedes the obvious, that he’s on the hot seat with the players. He said his mindset in a nutshell is to beat the offense physically, mentally and in scheming.
He likes what Wimbley, Jackson and 2006 Round 4 pick Leon Williams can bring to the linebacker corps.
“Last year’s rookies are further advanced,” he said. “They’re ready to roll.”
He predicted Wimbley will be better against both the run and the pass.
Last year’s run defense was a disappointment, giving up 142.2 yards a game, a step backward from 2005 (137.6).
“Having Orpheus (Roye) healthy will be key,” he said of a 34-year-old end coming off an injury-plagued year. “(Free-agent pick-up) Robaire Smith will help.”
Grantham seems to think Washington and Chaun Smith will be an effective nose tackle tag team, and that Simon Fraser can fill in at either end.
Again, Grantham hopes he can bring a safety into the box to help against the run.
“You need the ability to drop into an eight-man front,” he said. “To do that, you need to be able to cover outside.
“As our team improves, I think that’s gonna come down.”
Role players could make a difference.
Free agency pick-up Antwan Peek is supposed to be a quality backup to outside linebackers Wimbley and McGinest. All three are pass-rushing threats.
“Nothing’s to say they can’t be on the field at the same time,” Grantham said.
This might be the deepest defense of the expansion era, the result of three years of roster tweaking by Phil Savage.
“We’ve improved every year in the quality of players we have,” Grantham said. “Right now, we’re in as good of shape as we’ve ever been.”
Ted Daisher, Special Teams
Two days into camp, fans were in love with this guy.
When a couple of kickoff coverage men ran a half step below full speed, Daisher, 52, bellowed, “C’mon, hit outta your (butt).”
On the next kick, Daisher yelled, “Get to that freakin’ ball.” He ran after the coverage unit, liked what he saw and yelled, “Thank you.”
Cheers for Daisher cascaded over the gallery ropes.
“I have high expectations for us. I really do,” Daisher said. “If I see something as a coach that’s not to that expectation, I’m gonna correct it.”
Daisher had the dubious distinction of coordinating special teams for the 2-14 Oakland Raiders in 2006.
His résumé is different.
In 2003, a year before he got his first NFL job (Eagles), he was head coach at a North Carolina high school. Before that, he was a defensive coach at East Carolina University, a defensive line coach at Indiana University, a defensive line coach at Army and a high school head coach in Illinois.
A former Western Michigan wide receiver and defensive back, he has quickly identified fellow former MAC player Joshua Cribbs as a special teams force.
“What do you not like about Joshua Cribbs?” he said.
Cribbs led the Browns in special teams tackles last year. He didn’t get much league-wide buzz as a return man because Devin Hester while scoring five return touchdowns for NFC champ Chicago, but ...
“I think Josh is that type of returner,” Daisher said. “I really do. He’s dangerous.”
Cribbs is being pushed by rookies Syndric Steptoe and Brandon McDonald for the punt return job.
Of those two, Daisher said, “They get their hands on the ball and get a little space, they’re gonna make something happen.”
Daisher has prioritized getting Phil Dawson back on track after a late-season slump.
“Phil worked diligently to correct some technical things,” Daisher said.
Steve Doerschuk is a writer for the Canton Repository.