Watson fits Browns West Coast transition

The Browns acquisition of free agent TE Benjamin Watson is a perfect example of the effect Mike Holmgren is having already in Cleveland — and this team’s transition to the West Coast offense.

Sure, the QB situation is making headlines, and it started with the deal that brought Seneca Wallace to town. Derek Anderson was given his walking papers, and it looks like Brady Quinn will be the next to go.

Jake Delhomme? The former Carolina starter came in for a visit and there is a possibility that he could end up in Cleveland — maybe as the opening day starter.

But, in any West Coast system, the TE position is key to the offense. No matter who the Browns starter is in September, Cleveland needs an athletic TE who can win at the line of scrimmage and work the various route combinations in between the numbers — a player like Watson who can match up with any linebacker or strong safety in the NFL because of his size and speed.

We tend to overlook Watson because of the system he played in out in New England. He was in a system designed to push the ball down the field using a variety of personnel groupings and a variety of route combinations that will spread defenses across the field. He was a third option behind Wes Welker and Randy Moss.

In Cleveland, he will become a bigger part of the run game and will play more as a core TE instead of being used as an extra WR removed from the formation.

I like Watson’s game because he does have the physical size and athletic ability to beat defenders underneath and use his speed to get up field, and the West Coast system should allow him to become more of a conventional TE.

The NFP’s Michael Lombardi commented the other day that the trade for Seneca Wallace was a clear indicator that Holmgren was implementing his offense under head coach Eric Mangini. The Watson deal just reinforces his point.

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