Wednesday, August 5, 2009
2009 NFL PREVIEW- Cleveland Browns
TEAM RECORD: 4-12
(4th in AFC North)
HEAD COACH: Eric Mangini
Key Additions: TE Robert Royal (FA/Bills) CB Hank Poteat (FA/Jets) LB Eric Barton (FA/Jets) OL John St. Clair (FA/Bears) RB Noah Herron (FA/Buccaneers) CB Corey Ivy (FA/Ravens) WR David Patton (FA/Saints) WR Mike Furrey (FA/Lions) DL Kenyon Coleman (trade/Jets)
Key Losses: TE Kellen Winslow Jr. (trade/Buccaneers) QB Bruce Gradkowski (FA/Raiders) RB Jason Wright (FA/Cardinals) CB Travis Daniels (FA/Chiefs) TE Darnell Dinkins (FA/Saints) LB Willie McGinest (FA) WR Joe Jerevicius (FA)
Offense: The Browns will look to solve the quarterback dilemma that developed last season when Derek Anderson fell off drastically from the great season he posted in 2007.
Anderson threw for just nine touchdowns last sesason to go with eight interceptions and just 1,615 yards as well. New Head Coach Eric Mangini (fired by the Jets) will likely have Brady Quinn as the starter come game time this season.
Quinn (518 yards passing with two TDs and two INT in '08) will get his chance and if he doesn't produce, look for the "Man Genius" to pull the hook. Anderson showed a lot in 2007 so to get another chance would be extra motivation for the fourth year signal caller.
The team has Jamal Lewis (1,002 yards rushing in '08) back again this season along with Lawrence Vickers at fullback.
The strength of the team's high flying offense two years ago was the passing game and that means that Braylon Edwards, who also saw his numbers drop in '08 as well, must rebound for the Browns to have a shot in the always tough AFC North.
Edwards caught just 55 passes last season for 873 yards and three touchdowns. Rookie wideout Brian Robiskie (from Ohio State) is a good one and David Patten comes over from New Orleans and brings experience with him. The Browns are hopeful that Donte' Stallworth (recently released from jail following DUI manslaughter) will also be in the fold for 2009.
Robert Royal (another free agent signer from the Bills) will be the Tight End and his backup is Martin Rucker.
The offensive line has top draft pick from California Alex Mack at center, Eric Steinbach and Floyd Womack at guards and the tackles are Joe Thomas and Ryan Tucker.
Defense: The defense was down last season, especially against the run.
Cleveland allowed an average of 152 yards per game on the ground in 2008 and in their division that is not how you win.
Up front will be Shaun Rogers at Nose Tackle with Kenyon Coleman and Robaire Smith at the tackle spots. Linebackers in Cleveland's 3-4 defense will be Eric Barton (coming over from the Jets) and D' Qwell Jackson as inside backers while the outside LB will be David Bowens and Kamerion Wimbley.
The secondary, which was second in the NFL last season with 23 picks, has Brandon McDonald and Eric Wright at cornerback and the safeties will be Abram Elam and Brodney Pool.
The team made a lot of changes in the off-season, especially on the defensive side of the ball as Hank Poteat, Corey Ivy, Corey Williams, Shaun Smith and Leon Williams look to get a chance as well on the defense.
OUTLOOK: Cleveland fell off from 10-6 in 2007 to 4-12 and last place in the AFC North last year. The poor showing cost former Head Coach Romeo Crennel his job after four seasons.
If Quinn can develop and the team's passing game can be reignited to the form of 2007 and Lewis steps up to his old form in the backfield, this team can compete.
A lot of question marks there however, and the team will be pressed in the division by the Steelers and Ravens as well as the Bengals, which is the other team in Ohio.
The defense has to apply more pressure on opposing quarterbacks (17 total sacks in '08) for the defense to improve. The secondary did a good job last season with the interceptions led by McDonald with five picks and Sean Jones, who had four interceptions.
Improving the run defense is a must for Cleveland.
The Browns ranked 26th against the run in '08 and the total defense was 26th in the league, allowing an average of 357 yards per game.
The special teams deserve a mention because kick returner Josh Cribbs is always a threat to take one back and that can make a difference in a game. Kicker Phil Dawson is solid and punter Dave Zastudil is always among the top punters in the league.
Look for the Browns to improve on last year's dismal season and finish at 6-10, which may get them out of the AFC North basement. Anything better would be nice and a playoff spot would likely get Mangini the Coach of the Year Award. That, however, is a big reach for this season.
Week 1- vs. Minnesota (Sept. 13)
Week 2- at Denver (Sept. 20)
Week 3- at Baltimore (Sept. 27)
Week 4- vs. Cincinnati (Oct. 4)
Week 5- at Buffalo (Oct. 11)
Week 6- at Pittsburgh (Oct. 18)
Week 7- vs. Green Bay (Oct. 25)
Week 8- at Chicago (Nov. 1)
Week 9- BYE WEEK
Week 10- vs. Baltimore (Nov. 15)
Week 11- at Detroit (Nov. 22)
Week 12- at Cincinnati (Nov. 29)
Week 13- vs. San Diego (Dec. 6)
Week 14- vs. Pittsburgh (Dec. 10)
Week 15- at Kansas City (Dec. 20)
Week 16- vs. Oakland (Dec. 27)
Week 17- vs. Jacksonville (Jan. 3)