I know that there is nothing sexy about the Browns’ free agent pickups so far. I also know that everyone is pretty much tired of looking at Jets stats to see how these guys have played in the past. Well, there is another Jet coming to town, but coming with him is a dude named Pork Chop. Eric Barton is the Jet linebacker that has been talked about since free agency started, and now the Browns appear to have added some help on the offensive line. Floyd “Pork Chop” Womack is your newest Cleveland Browns offensive lineman. I would think that Browns fans, of all people, would be able to rally around a dude named after a food. Now, if we could only find a right tackle with the nickname Apple Sauce it would be the most delicious right side of an offensive line EVER.
While it isn’t a homecoming of any kind for Womack, he was born in a town named Cleveland. It just happened to be in Mississippi. He was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 4th round in 2001 and he played his college ball at Mississippi State. The skinny on Womack (Ha. Get it?) is that he is a giant dude with the ability to play both tackle and guard. He is listed at 6’4″ and 328 pounds. He played a lot for the Seahawks last year at the two guard spots, but stats for offensive linemen aren’t really available. The Seahawks were 4-12, but that certainly doesn’t tell you anything either. I don’t know if this guy even projects to be a starter, but to me this again points to the Browns looking to improve their running game. In order to win in the AFC North, you need to have physical line play. I look at this and our newest blocking tight end as signs that the Browns will look to improve that phase of the game.
As for Eric Barton, we have been talking and thinking about him for a while now. Barton is a veteran tackling machine. Then again, Andra Davis was a tackling machine a few years back. As Scott likes to point out all the time, though, the tackles occurred way too far downfield on a way too consistent basis. If I had to guess, Barton was brought in to help bridge the knowledge gap between the Romeo Crennel show and the Eric Mangini show. Barton is probably not viewed as the ultimate solution at linebacker, but the kind of guy who can help young guys like Kamerion Wimbley, D’Qwell Jackson (who Mangini has mentioned multiple times,) Alex Hall, and even Beau Bell grasp the new system.
One of the big things that I am hoping Mangini changes from Romeo is his willingness to see what we have in some of the younger players on the roster. At least we know that there will be no more Willie McGinest pretending that he is still effective. Still, all these young guys probably needed at least one person out there to call out things that he sees and to help them gain knowledge of their gap responsibilities, etc. Hopefully Eric Barton is that guy for a year or two while the young guys and (hopefully) our draft picks this year develop into front line starters.
I know it is easy to get frustrated with someone like Kamerion Wimbley, but he and D’Qwell are still young at 25, relatively healthy, and athletic. I know some people around here question their fire and desire, but part of what a great coaching staff does is get the most out of their players. I haven’t given up on Wimbley just yet and I am now rooting for Eric Barton to help this young linebacking corps much like I did with Willie McGinest. Just because Big Willie wasn’t able to do it doesn’t mean it was a bad idea. If Mangini ever hopes to be a great coach in this league he will figure out how to do that, starting with Wimbley.