Leading up until the regular season, the Nosebleeds NFL Blog will preview every team in the NFL. These capsules will serve as a primer for the NFL regular season opening up. Today we examine the Cleveland Browns.
Can Derek Anderson emerge as a franchise Quarterback and lead the Browns to the Playoffs?
I must remove any biases from this assesment. I really need to deal in facts to answer this question, and maybe give a little bit of opinion. Derek Anderson was a Pro-Bowl Quarterback last season. As a Browns fan, I hope he is a true superstar. If he is, there’s almost nothing that can stop the Browns from being a Super Bowl team in the next couple seasons. Even if it will spell the demise of Brady Quinn, I’ll still get to see a Super Bowl type team in Cleveland and there will be battles that match up to the classics of yesteryear on the lakefront. That will be a thrill. If Anderson falters, Brady Quinn needs to get his opportunities to be the guy. I think Anderson is about what we saw last season (huge arm, 29 TD, 19 INT).
For all the talk of a quarterback maturing, I honestly think what you see is what you get with this guy. He throws absolute seeds at his receivers, and he has a quick release. The bottom line with Anderson is that we will all know what kind of QB he is; and whether or not he is the long-term answer at QB for the Browns after the first 4 games of the season. The Browns open up with the Cowboys, welcome the Steelers (both National TV games), then head to Cincinnati and Baltimore. Anderson wasn’t great on the road last year and although he was undefeated at home as a starter (7-0), he’ll need to play well in those road divisional contests.
As much as people try to downplay the QB situation in Cleveland, it’s there and the conversation of the Browns will start and end with that topic until someone answers the question. In the end I think Derek Anderson is a good enough QB with the team around him he has currently to get the Browns to the playoffs again and again. Some will always be happy with that. I do not know and actually have doubts that he could get to a Super Bowl or win one. We’re about to find out alot about #3.
Is the Browns defense fixed?
The Browns might have scored a lot of points last season but they also gave up too much. They surrendered an unreal 211 first downs to the pass alone and 41 touchdowns overall. I heard insiders say that the Browns personnel wasn’t all that bad so it must have been a coaching issue. The Browns fired Todd Grantham, and appointed Mel Tucker as the defensive coordinator. I expect HUGE things from Mel Tucker’s first year and I think he’ll soon be known as one of the top young coaches in all of football.
The Browns beefed up the defensive line by adding tackles Shawn Rogers and Corey Williams. This will tie up opposing offensive lines and allow guys like Kamerion Wimbley to wreak havoc with the pass rush. It will also help young corners Eric Wright and Brandon Mcdonald in defending the secondary.
I expect the Browns offense to slip a bit and the defense to improve. People will be impressed with this unit by seasons end.
What is the Browns weakness?
I think the Browns weakness will be that they’re a relatively inexperienced team and with their youth the lofty expectations could get them feeling their own press clippings a bit. I could see Cleveland starting slowly with a few letdowns because they think by simply showing up they’re better than the other team across the sideline from them. They’re getting a lot of hype in the press and even mention of being on the Sports Illustrated football preview cover.
The Browns also play a plethora of prime-time games. Sure it’s exciting, but it really takes a certain type of team with special personalities to be able to handle that kind of exposure. If there is any weakness on this team, it’s the fact that they’re not filled with guys that have been there before. This could end up being a grow up season for the ‘loaded’ Browns, where most feel it was last year. In reality, it’s the NFL and they could still be a season away.
The bottom line. What does the 2008 crystal ball hold for the Browns?
In the end, I see this team finishing with the identical record they did last season; 10-6, and winning the AFC North division. The Browns will host a first round playoff game and win that game.
This is a team that is heavily loaded and while they might not be a Super Bowl team just yet, fans on the lakefront will finally get to taste postseason success. Big things are coming for the Browns.