Looks Like It's Going to Be A Long Year for Browns Fans [Cleveland Browns Preview]
The 2009 Cleveland Browns enter the season with question marks at virtually every position. Brady Quinn and Derek (DA) Anderson are currently still battling for the starting QB job and the preseason is now over. New Head Coach Eric Mangini has vowed for change but has yet to really shake things up. The strongest part of the team appears to be at LB where D'Qwell Jackson is coming off a season where he led the league in total tackles. He is joined by newcomer Eric Barton (JETS) and Kamerion Wimbley. The other starter is currently unknown but smart money would be on Alex Hall (2nd season). The Browns are switching to a 3-4 defense to replace a 4-3 scheme for which they were never equipped. The WRs have to step it up this season. Last season they had far too many dropped passes. Braylon Edwards must regain his 2007 form in order for this offense to somewhat click. He dropped so many passes last year you'd swear he was playing without hands. The other WRs are Mike Furrey, (R) Mohamed Massaquoi, (R) Brian Robiskie, Josh Cribbs and possibly David Patten, but Patten's lack of preseason play should result in his release.
The OL is set on the left side with LT Joe Thomas and LG Eric Steinbach. The right side looks to be John St. Clair and Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack. The C is an interesting position. Rookie Alex Mack and veteran Hank Fraley are in a battle, but rumors are swirling that Fraley may be released. The RB position is also cloudy. Rookie James Davis has looked better than any other back in camp. Jamal "Tiptoes" Lewis looks old and, in this guy's opinion, should be released. CFL castaway Chris Jennings has been a beast. Jerome Harrison is liked for a change of pace 3rd down back and Lawrence Vickers is set at FB. The Browns should be active on the waiver wire come Saturday evening after most teams cut their rosters. The starting CB's are set with Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald but they really don't scare anyone. The safety position is one that I have questions about. Brodney Pool has concussion issues and Abram Elam is well liked by Mangini (he was also a Jet). Mike Adams will probably start instead of Pool and he has a real nose for the ball but lacks coverage skills, as do most of the Browns DB's. DB's is an area I expect the Browns to be actively pursuing prior to the season opener v. the Vikings. For Cleveland die-hard fans out there: please do not expect miracles this year. I am a realist and as big a Browns fan that you'll ever see and one must come to realize that anything over 6 wins is a miracle.
Weaknesses: pass rush (particularly safety), QB
A few things to watch: 1. Returner Josh Cribbs. He is amongst the NFL's best and is a sight to behold.
2. The Browns DL. Can they stop the run? In the AFC North, stopping the run is a top priority. Shaun Rogers, Corey Williams, Kenyon Coleman, and Robaire Smith are a tough group, but must remain healthy.
3. The play of the QB. How short will the starter's leash be? How many mistakes before Mangini pulls one gut for the other?
4. Pass Rush. The Browns lack thereof over the past few years has been painful to watch. Maybe with a new scheme good things can happen.
Braylon Edwards is catching everything thrown his way thus far. In practice and in Preseason games...I know its practice but its a heck of an improvement over last season. He could be in for a monster year.
IDP's- D'Qwell JAckson is a must-own, but Eric Barton and Kam Wimbley will steal some stats. Abram Elam is a playmaker but should only be drafted in deep IDP leagues.
Stay away from Browns QB's and RB's. (for right now)
Predictions: Eric Mangini has a ton of work to do and I wish him the best, but I am not his biggest fan. Go Browns in 2009...at least get me 4 wins!!!