As the Browns look for ways to pump more life into an anemic pass offense,
they are considering bringing the tight ends back into the picture for the game
against Jacksonville on Sunday in Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Nobody in training camp and preseason had better harmony than Trent Dilfer and
Aaron Shea. When the other receivers were covered, Shea was always there.
It was the Dilfer-Shea combination that opened eyes to how tight end friendly
the Browns would be under new offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon. A pectoral
injury kept Shea out of the first three regular-season games, but when he
returned, he caught six passes against the Bears and three the next week against
Shea caught one pass against the Lions, one against the Texans, and none in each
of the last four games. Starting tight end Steve Heiden did catch four passes
against the Dolphins for 31 yards and five against Minnesota for 55 yards, but
he hasn't seen the end zone since catching two touchdown passes against the
Packers the second week of the season.
"All I care about is whether we win," Shea said. "I'm a team player. I keep my
mouth shut and run the routes I'm told to run.
"It's frustrating. I ain't going to lie to you, but it's also one of those
things that if we're winning, it's for the betterment of the team."
Shea has been more involved as a blocker since Reuben Droughns has become a
featured part of the offense. Also, rookie receiver Braylon Edwards has taken on
a bigger role in recent weeks. He caught six passes against the Dolphins and
four against the Vikings.
The Browns are averaging 58 offensive plays per game, and their average time of
possession of 27:26 is among the lowest in the league. Getting passes to the
tight ends is a way to keep the chains moving.
"Teams go through ebbs and flows," Dilfer said. "It's kind of like our red-zone
offense and third-down offense -- we're not great yet. We're working on it.
"Part of jelling and molding as an offense is finding your identity with ball
distribution. We want to get the ball to the tight ends, to the H-back person
like Aaron, but you grow into doing that. It's a challenge when you want to get
the ball to your running back 25 or 30 times. I think the secret to this system
forever has been unselfishness from each player, including the quarterback."
Dilfer said each game fits a different profile that suits one aspect of the
offense more than the others. Once the Browns reach the point of exploiting
those situations they will be unpredictable, but that is a work in progress,