Will the 2009 Cleveland Browns Play Meaningful Football in January?

. abcCorrespondent IMay 12, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Kamerion Wimbley #95 of the Cleveland Browns sacks Josh McCown #12 of the Oakland Raiders during an NFL game at McAfee Coliseum September 23, 2007 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

What are your realistic 2009 season expectations for the Browns? What will it take to exceed them, and what obstacles could cause them to fall short?

I expect the Browns to have an elite offense like they did in ’07 thanks to the new look offensive line.  

The defense will not be in the same galaxy as division foes Baltimore and Pittsburgh but may be good enough to have the team contend in ’09.

Special teams is excellent with Joshua Cribbs, Phil Dawson, and fellow Ohio Bobcat Alum Dave Zastudil.

Bold Prediction: Browns finish the year 8-8.

In the first offseason under the new regime of Eric Mangini and George Kokinis, the Cleveland Browns have totally re-shaped the team’s roster.

The Browns defense has depth at defensive line and that’s about it.

The offense is solid at all the starting positions, but has DEPTH at quarterback, wide receiver, full-back, and offensive line.

Since “defense wins championships” we’ll start there. This team had an anemic pass rush last year that produced only 17 sacks. Only the Chiefs were worse with 10.

Despite the lack of pass rush, the Browns ranked second in interceptions, that’s right they ranked second in the NFL with 23 INTs last year. Just think how many they could have had if the opposing quarterback didn’t have all weekend to throw.

Kamerion Wimbley is the x-factor to the pass rush struggles. Wimbley has slowly declined during his time in orange and brown. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will need to get Wimbley back to the production of his rookie season.

If the former Seminole doesn’t pan out, last year’s seventh rounder Alex Hall will need to contribute in a big way.

At the very least, former Jets, Eric Barton and David Bowens, need to be better than Andra Davis and Willie McGinest were last year.

My dark horse, that has been getting little mention this offseason, will be to see the hard hitter from UNLV, Beau Bell, get a shot.

Entering this off-season, the secondary had more holes than Swiss cheese. The two lone bright spots are Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald. They are solid pieces that will continue to grow and could do big things this year.

Hank Poteat and Corey Ivy arrived via free agency and should help the depth at corner. Just hope they aren’t forced to fill one of the top spots for Wright or McDonald.

Safety is a major question mark. Brodney Pool is not a playmaker.

Do you want to see Mike Adams and Nick Sorensen start?

Former Jet Abram Elam, like Wimbley, will need to make the big time impact plays that few Browns defensive players can. Elam’s play will have a major impact on this team’s success or failure because there isn’t much depth to be found at safety.

I love the changes the Browns made to their offensive line.

The addition of Floyd “Pork Chop” Womack and John St. Clair should help solidify the right side of the O-line. These additions, plus having Steinbach and Thomas on the left side, should make an easy transition to the NFL for Cal rookie Alex Mack.

If Mack lives up to the billing, this could help Jamal Lewis regain the kind of production he had in 2007 when the Browns were on the cusp of a playoff birth.

Jerome Harrison showed promise last year with the few touches he had and James Davis might be a steal in the sixth round, but the Browns need Jamal Lewis healthy.

Despite an offensive line filled with potential Pro Bowlers, this team will not have a significant running attack if Lewis goes down.

IF he makes the final roster, I don’t see Noah Herron being the next Jim Brown either.

Keep your fingers crossed that Lewis has enough gas in the tank to last the season.

Brian Robiskie, the local kid from Chagrin Falls, will need to be able to play at a high level right away opposite Braylon Edwards, and I think he will (at the very least he can be relied on to CATCH the ball).

It will be up to fellow 2nd rounder Mohamed Massaquoi, or a combination of David Patten, Mike Furrey, and Paul Hubbard to step-up if Donte Stallworth is unable to play because of his legal issues.

And in case you thought I forgot, the team will need to have success from whoever emerges as the starting quarterback.

Quinn or Anderson.

Anderson or Quinn.

Let the political debates begin.