The Cleveland Browns have several problems on offense. Is Cameron Erving’s ability to snap the ball becoming one of them?
Heading into the 2016 season, one of the biggest questions surrounding the Cleveland Browns centered on, well, the center position.
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After seeing Alex Mack leave in free agency to the Atlanta Falcons, the Browns turned the position over to Cameron Erving, one of the team’s first-round draft picks from 2015.
Even though he is in his second year, Erving is still learning the position, not only at the NFL level, but learning the position in general. While many believe that Erving can play center, the reality is that he only played the position a handful of times while at Florida State.
Erving struggled at times during the preseason, but for the most part showed the type of improvement that the Browns – and their quarterbacks — are looking for. Then came Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The lowlight of Erving’s day came in the third quarter when his snap sailed over the head of quarterback Robert Griffin III and out of the back of the end zone for a safety. The Eagles took the ensuing free kick and put together a touchdown drive to push the lead to 12 points.
That one snap did not cost the Browns the game, but it does raise some concern about Erving. If he starts to overthink a basic play like snapping the ball, the situation could become problematic.
Head coach Hue Jackson commented on Erving’s play after the game and his answer was a bit surprising.
“It is something that can’t happen in a game. It is embarrassing and it is not right, but at the same time, I think for the negative that Cam did he is doing some good things, too,” Jackson said. “It is unfortunate the snaps show up, and it is something he has to correct. I’m disappointed in that but I’m not down on the player. He has to get that fixed and has to get it corrected. It will hurt our football team if it keeps happening. There is no doubt about that.”
“I don’t want to coach the center and the quarterback snap, but if I have to take my jacket off and go down there and start coaching it, then I am going to.”
Since being hired as head coach, Jackson has gone out of his way to be positive about the players on the roster. That’s why him saying that Erving’s play was “embarrassing” was a bit of a shocker.
Despite his struggles, there is no reason for the Browns to give up on Erving, especially this early in the season. While unfortunate, bad snaps are going to happen from time to time. As long as it doesn’t develop into a mental block, Erving will be fine.
The team also doesn’t have any real options behind Erving right now. John Greco is the emergency center, but if the Browns were to move him to the position full-time, that would impact not only at center but also would necessitate someone replacing Greco at guard. It seems unlikely that the coaching staff would want to disrupt multiple positions like that.