Cleveland Browns: Arrival of Bob Wylie means a return to fundamentals
The Cleveland Browns officially hired Bob Wylie as their new offensive line coach. Wylie’s hiring signals a return to fundamentals.
The Cleveland Browns offensive line will be returning to fundamentals with the arrival of offensive line coach Bob Wylie.
Wylie, who is known as an amateur magician, will need every trick in the book to take what is currently an average Browns offensive line and make it elite.
As a magician, Wylie knows that the best tricks are sometimes the oldest ones in the book. Who doesn’t enjoy the classic pull a rabbit from the hat trick? Or a classic card trick that leaves one wondering how he did it? And now that he is in charge of the offensive line, Wylie intends to return to the oldest offensive line trick in the book – leverage.
Last year the Browns offensive line struggled in basic fundamentals. The Browns were 32nd in the league in sacks allowed. Not all those sacks were the offensive line’s fault. However, the pass protection simply was not good enough as there were too many hits, hurries and sacks last season on Cleveland’s quarterbacks.
Pass protection, in general, suffered from the inability of the linemen to play with leverage. To play with leverage, a lineman must have a strong base and an ability to use his body to attack others while protecting himself. Cleveland’s linemen were often off-balance, which allowed defenders to easily beat their block on the way to the quarterback.
The running game suffered given the inability of the offensive line to move people with double teams and get blocks on the second level. It seemed the Browns had the line of scrimmage moved backward on them resulting in the running back being hit in the backfield. The inability to play with leverage greatly affected the Browns’ ability to run the football.
The Browns offensive line was also very young in places. Unfortunately, today’s college football does not teach young lineman how to develop, maintain and effectively use leverage. Newcomers Spencer Drango and Shon Coleman both demonstrated just how far behind a rookie offensive lineman can be when entering the league.
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Drango never looked comfortable at left guard while filling in for the injured Joel Bitonio. Drango was unable to pass or run block effectively, .would fail to obtain position and often lacked leverage when trying to secure blocks. The result was a shutdown of the running game for several weeks and vicious hits on the quarterbacks.
Coleman impressed in his first sustained action against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17. He was effective moving people in the running game; however, his fundamentals were shaky in pass protection. His run blocking was extremely impressive given that he played standing straight up and almost without leverage completely.
Cameron Erving struggled at center all season. His difficulty was leverage, not because of technique but because he is 6-foot-5, which is extremely tall for a center. Erving used good lower body technique, but was unable to employ the upper body technique to use this leverage against defenders. Unfortunately, he was unable to make progress in these areas throughout the year. However, when he returned to offensive tackle for the season’s final game, he was able to use his height, quickness and size to his advantage.
Hiring a coach with 35 years of experience like Wylie will go a long way to shore up the offensive line. With the Browns running head first in to a youth movement on the offensive line, a coach who can teach the fundamentals of positioning and how to effectively use leverage is absolutely invaluable.
For the interested fan, Wylie is featured in many video’s on YouTube.
This will be Wylie’s second go around with head coach Hue Jackson. Jackson brought in Wylie in 2011 to coach the Oakland Raider’s offensive line and helped that team go from 29th in the league in sacks allowed to fourth in one season. The Browns – especially whoever lines up behind center this fall – are hoping that a similar turnaround is in the future.
Next: Browns roster analysis: The wide receivers
Can Wylie magically transform the Browns into a superior offensive line? Only if it’s in the cards.