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Friday, August 6, 2010

Cleveland Browns 2010 Preview and Prediction

Last Years Record            5-11
Wins: Bills, Steelers, Chiefs, Raiders, Jaguars
Losses: Vikings, Broncos, Ravens (x2), Bengals (x2), Steelers, Packers, Bears, Lions, Chargers
Biggest Playmaker            Josh Cribbs
WR/KR, Kent State, Undrafted, 6th Year
Josh Cribbs is just about the only big-play threat on the Browns’ roster.  After catching just 36 balls in his first five seasons the Browns are planning to use him more on offense, as he ran for almost 400 yards a year ago.  He is the most exciting return man in the game, averaging just under 12 yards per punt return a year ago with one touchdown and three kickoff return touchdowns.
Impact Player            Joe Thomas
LT, Wisconsin, Drafted #3, 4th Year
Joe Thomas was drafted to become a franchise left tackle and that is just what he has become.  He has gotten great reviews from his coaches, and him lined up next to LG Eric Steinbach gives the Browns a very strong left side of the line.
Biggest Offseason Addition            Benjamin Watson
TE, Georgia, Drafted # 32, 7th Year
Watson is a guy who is known for chasing down Champ Bailey across the field after an interception, but has yet to live up to his potential.  That said, the Patrios rarely utilized their tight ends in the passing game, and he could be a weapon for Jake Delhomme given his size and speed.  He is also an above average blocker.  Mike Holmgren should also be considered as the biggest addition, just off the field.
Biggest Offseason Loss            Quarterbacks
Sure, the Browns got rid of Derek Anderson who had a miserable year last year and Brady Quinn who the Browns could seemingly not win behind, but they did not get enough in return.   That’s without mentioning they are now looking at Jake Delhomme as their starting quarterback coming off a season with a TD/INT ratio of 8/18 and six fumbles.
Biggest Draft Steal            Colt McCoy
QB, Texas, Drafted #85, Rookie
Given the Browns current quarterback situation (Delhomme and unproven backup Seneca Wallace) they needed to draft a quarterback.  And grabbing Colt McCoy in the late third round was a great value pick.  McCoy is a great athlete for his position and incredibly accurate, the most important trait for a quarterback.  I think he will be an above average starter a few years down the road, but could be pressed into action earlier than that. 
Biggest Draft Mistake            Joe Haden
CB, Florida, Drafted #7, Rookie
Joe Haden is an incredibly talented player and worthy of a top 10 pick, but the Browns just have so many needs that they certainly could have afforded to trade down and take multiple players that will help out right away.  It looks like Joe Haden may start the season as a nickel back, and I believe that anyone drafted 7th overall should be considered a starter near the beginning of the season.                 
Offseason Grade            C
The Browns really didn’t make many moves this offseason except for hiring Mike Holmgren and paying Jake Delhomme $7 million…far too much for an aging quarterback coming off a brutal season.  I’m not sure if the management figured they could keep winning like they did in their last four games of ’09 (three of the teams being the Chiefs, Raiders and Jaguars), but they really didn’t fill any of their major needs.  Wide receiver and defensive tackle (Shaun Rogers injury and facing possible suspension), anyone?
X-Factor            Jake Delhomme
QB, Louisiana-Lafayette, Undrafted, 14th Year
Jake Delhomme has the ability to lead this team to six wins or so, but also the potential to steer them towards three.  It is nice to have a veteran QB in the Browns’ situation, but not so nice when his TD/Int ratio was less than ½.  Delhomme has shown that he can lead a team in the past and must step up this year.
Name You Should Know            Jerome Harrison
RB, Washington St., Drafted #145th, 5th Year
Harrison broke into the limelight with his 286 yard performance against the Chiefs in week 14.  He then went on to rush for 148 and 127 yards in the next two weeks.  However, those games were against the Raiders and the Jaguars.  The Jaguars ranked 19th against the run, the Raiders 29th and the Chiefs 31st, not to mention these teams had no playoff chances when the Browns played them.  Harrison showed flashes of brilliance last year and will be the feature back of a rushing attack ranked 8th in the NFL, but I am not sold on him
Rising Star            Alex Mack
C, California, Drafted #21, 2nd Year
Alex Mack was the Browns first round pick last year and started all 16 games in his rookie season.  He only committed one penalty all year, and was part of a line that allowed just 30 sacks and ranked 8th in total rushing yards.
Offensive Outlook            C
Jerome Harrison can be a workhorse as he proved last year, carrying the ball 106 times in the last three games, but no one can be counted on doing that for 16 games…that would put him on pace for 565 carries in a year.  Delhomme comes in as the starting QB with almost no weapons around him, and the Browns desperately need to get the ball to Josh Cribbs in open space as much as possible.  The Browns had the least passing yards in the NFL in ‘09
Defensive Outlook            C-
In 2009 the Browns ranked 29th in yards allowed passing and 28th against the run.  There only significant additions to this defense were OLB Scott Fujita (1 sack in ’09) and CBs Sheldon Brown and Joe Haden.  The injury to Shaun Rogers and looming suspension will also play a key role.
Special Teams Outlook            A
Special teams have been the one bright spot for the Browns.  Last year they ranked first in overall special teams, much due to Josh Cribbs’ return abilities.  Their kicking game is also very solid with punter Dave Zastudil and kicker Phil Dawson
Projected 2010 Record            4-12
The Browns are playing in a very tough division with the Steelers, Ravens and defending division champs the Bengals.  It seems like every team upgraded this offseason and addressed their needs besides the Browns.  Their schedule being the 10th toughest in the league doesn’t help matters.  They could definitely pick up wins over the Bucs, Chiefs, Bills and Jaguars and maybe squeeze out one divisional victory.

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