CLEVELAND—New head coach Eric Mangini and general manager George Kokinis have their work cut out for them.
Just a few weeks before the team hits the field for organized team activities, the new regime has a lot of holes to fill. And a suspenseful draft has brought about an array of new pieces to play with.
Having passed on defense with its first three picks, the Browns chose instead to focus on a defense that ranked 31st in total offensive yards last season. The first three selections brought center Alex Mack (6'2", 314 pounds, California) and wide receivers Brian Robiskie (6'3", 209 pounds, Ohio State) and Mohamed Massaquoi (6'2", 210 pounds, Georgia) to bolster the stagnant offense. Two of the three are projected starters and the other is expected to see significant time.
A draft day trade also brought quarterback Brett Ratliff to the team. He is expected to compete as the primary backup for the Browns.
Many Browns fans can remember the excitement that came with the 2007 squad. And while the defense was ranked 30th in total yards allowed, the offense was an astonishing eighth-best in total offensive yardage.
Derek Anderson's 29 touchdown passes—16 of which were caught by breakout wideout Braylon Edwards—were fifth-best in the league. And Jamal Lewis' 1,304 yards on the ground (also good for fifth in the league) gave Cleveland enough balance to win 10 games and just miss a playoff spot.
But last season's Browns reminded too many Clevelanders of the heartache by the lake that they've grown accustomed to. Mangini hopes to use his new offensive weapons to remind faithful fans of the Kardiac Kids and not the Browns who seem to have congestive heart failure each season.
At the very least, Mangini hopes to give the dawg pound something to bark about.