Chemistry is a school class most students would rather avoid taking.
On a football field chemistry is something every player enjoys having with teammates. Quarterbacks, in particular, spend hours of practice time trying to develop the right formula to successfully get the ball to receivers, tight ends and running backs.
The Browns didn't have much chemistry in their 34-20 loss to the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday. Forget about the meaningless drive late in the fourth quarter that produced a 26-yard touchdown pass from Brady Quinn to tight end Robert Royal. By then the Vikings were thinking about the celebratory plane ride home.
If the Browns want to avoid getting off to an 0-2 record Sunday in Denver against the Broncos, the passing game will need to be more consistent. For starters, Quinn needs to get the ball to his receivers more often (receivers combined for just eight receptions against the Vikings). That means approaching the game with the mentality of working the vertical passing game instead of relying on a controlled-style, short passing attack.
Quinn admits that the offense has a ways to go.
"I would say this offense is still young," Quinn said. "I don't think you necessarily put a label on a young infant when it's first starting out. This is after one game of the season. I wouldn't go too much based off preseason. I'd say we're still growing, still getting better."
Include Quinn among the youngest of the offensive players. Yes, this is his third season and he's 24, but he's had just four career starts. Patience might have to be the key to seeing if he's the quarterback for the long term.
"Sometimes when you're surrounded by guys who've been in the league a lot longer, I'm talking about the Steve Heidens, Hank Fraleys, etc. When you look at the league and you look at quarterbacks who are playing out there - Tom Brady, Donovan McNabb, Kurt Warner. With quarterbacks like that, yes, you feel younger. Going into my third year, yes, I think experience wise, I haven't gotten as much playing time as maybe some other guys who are entering their third year."
The foundation of the passing game should be the Quinn-Braylon Edwards connection. Edwards' best season was in 2007 when Derek Anderson started 15 games. Often getting open deep, Edwards caught 80 passes for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Coaches appear to look at Quinn for his cerebral skills and ability to manage the offense. There's an emphasis on structure and following reads instead of improvising.
"We're an offense that's going to try to push the ball down the field in a methodical way," Quinn said. "Whether it be through making smart decisions, checks, things of that nature, running the football. Obviously, in taking what the defense gives us. We're not going to try to force something if we don't have to. We're going to play smart football."
Edwards could face problems in a methodical-style offense. He's a big-play, free-lance type of receiver.
"Talking to offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, he showed me where I fit and showed me what I need to do to make this offense work," Edwards said. "I don't have a problem doing that."
Quinn has been criticized for lacking enough arm strength to throw the deep ball. He quieted those critics with a few well-thrown long pass in camp. Maybe it's just a mater of letting him became more instinctive and less robotic.
"I think in general, you're always trying to get the ball to your wide receivers in the passing game," Quinn said. "It's as simple as that. That's not something that we were trying to skirt. Things happen in the game that sometimes dictate where the ball goes. Other times, you're trying to work through certain reads that show where the ball goes."
Now that the first game against a strong defense is out of the way, maybe things will go smoother against the Broncos.
"Hopefully, a lot smoother," Quinn said.