Of the many interesting things Browns president Mike Holmgren said Tuesday, his remarks about how the club's wide receivers are used in offensive coordinator Brian Daboll's scheme were especially notable. Holmgren, in short, made it clear he wished the wide receivers were targeted more frequently.
"I think certain schemes, if you will, you get used to," Holmgren said when asked why the wideouts aren't bigger parts of the offense. "If you've grown up in a particular system, there is a focus, it seems like. The system I grew up in in San Francisco under Coach (Bill) Walsh and then through Green Bay and Seattle, I could almost tell you within two or three throws how many catches each position was going to make during the course of the year. It just happened that way. That was our scheme, that's how we played offense, that's how we did it.
"I think there's an emphasis to work the middle of the field here with our tight ends, our backs and then the slot receiver, the inside receiver, who in our case is (Chansi) Stuckey. That's part of it.
"The second part of it is we don't throw as many balls here as I have thrown over the years, so the numbers aren't going to be as great.
"The third thing, I think, is you have to ask yourself about the receivers, but they do not get as many touches as I am used to. We talked about it before, and whoever is calling the game — in this case it's Brian (Daboll) — he has a belief in a system and how he moves the football, how he's going to do it. And if anyone were to interfere with that too much, it would really throw a monkey wrench in most things, I think. We are going to play it out and see what happens."
Through seven games, Stuckey paces Browns wide receivers with 21 catches and 213 yards. TE Benjamin Watson leads the club with 30 catches, 336 yards and two touchdowns, with RB Peyton Hillis second in receptions with 28.
Second-year WRs Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie, who were second-round picks in Eric Mangini's first draft class in 2009, have had little impact on the offense this season despite seeing regular playing time. Massaquoi has nine catches for 115 yards and a touchdown, with Robiskie catching 8-61-0.
Holmgren defended the WR corps, which also includes Joshua Cribbs, rookie Carlton Mitchell and the recently signed Demetrius Williams, when he was asked if Daboll's play-calling would be different if he had more talent to work with at wideout.
"Let's not jump on the receivers too much here," Holmgren said. "Honest to goodness, I think they're pretty good, but their numbers just haven't been very good. Last year for obvious reasons, I think. This year for the reasons I stated. The emphasis seems to be Watson's catching more passes, Stuckey's catching more passes, our backs are catching more passes. I would like to see, as you would, our wide receivers catch more passes, but it's not happening, and I think there are two or three reasons there that I stated as the reasons they're not.
"To be, I think, the most effective offensive team you can be, I think it's important that they catch passes, I would say that. I think as we mature as an offensive football team, I would like to see that."
Given Holmgren's comments about the way the receivers have been used, it wouldn't be a surprise if changes were coming on offense in the offseason. And you have to wonder if more throws to the wide receivers aren't coming this season, even with Holmgren saying he wanted to take a hands-off approach to Daboll's scheme.
That may be true, but Holmgren has laid bare what he doesn't like about the Browns' offense, and certainly, Daboll had to notice. As if the post-bye portion of the Browns' schedule wasn't intriguing enough ...