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NFL Team Previews: Cleveland Browns

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NFL Team Previews: Cleveland Browns
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Pigskin Heaven's Sascha Bartels is breaking down every single team in the NFL prior to the season. Here is his analysis and forecast for the Cleveland Browns. Click on a team to read their preview.

Editors Note: All opinions and information were expressed prior to the news that Donte Stallworth would be suspended for the entire 2009 season.

AFC East: BUF | MIA | NE | NYJ

AFC North: BAL | CIN | CLE | PIT

AFC South: IND | HOU | JAX | TEN

AFC West: DEN | KAN | OAK | SDG

NFC East: DAL | NYG | PHI | WAS

NFC North: CHI | DET | GBA | MIN

NFC South: ATL | CAR | NOL | TBA

NFC West: ARI | STL | SFO | SEA

 

What’s new?

One of several teams that took an unexpected turn in the opposite direction last season.  While for some, like Miami and Baltimore, that turn was upward.

For Cleveland it wasn’t quite so, dropping six games in the standings, from 10-6 to 4-12.  Of course, a drop in record that drastic almost always brings repercussions, and head coach Romeo Crennel was not retained, replaced instead by another suddenly out of work coach, Eric Mangini.

On the field departures in the off-season include safety Sean Jones and linebacker Andra Davis, while the Browns added guys like former Bills tight end Robert Royal, linebacker Eric Barton and guard Floyd Womack.

The draft was good for Cleveland, as they thought they would be strapped with the fifth overall pick.  Instead, the fifth became the 17th, which became the 19th, which finally became the 21st and center Alex Mack.

The Browns added two additional second round selections and found more offensive help with the selections of receivers Brian Robiskie and Mohammad Massaquoi as well as DE David Veikune.

One more draft pick I want to mention was the sixth round possible steal of CB Coye Francies.

 

Three burning questions

Will the offensive line return to 2007 form?

After the 2007 season and Cleveland’s fairly surprising run to 10 wins, the Browns’ offensive line was quickly toasted as the best in football.

Four wins and a new coach later, and that temperament has cooled a little.

Now anchored by 2007 rookie Joe Thomas and the new center coming to town, can Cleveland reclaim their spot near the top of the league?

 

Where’s the defense?

Division rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore were first and second in defense last season, and Cincinnati was a respectable 12th.

Cleveland?  26th, though they did fare better in scoring defense, even bettering the Bengals in that department.

The problem with 26th, however, was the effort the Browns made last season to better the defense, namely adding Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers and mortgaging last year’s draft for them.

With a new philosophy and year in Cleveland under their belts, I think Rogers Williams will anchor a better unit this season.

 

Who gets a job on the deep WR core?

Braylon Edwards 2007: 16 TD’s.  Braylon Edwards 2008: 16 Drops.

The Browns added several players to the WR group, likely to avoid an over reliance on Edwards, if his decrease in form continues.

Joe Jurivicius is gone, in his place comes virtual clone Mike Furrey.  I already mentioned the rookies Robiskie and Massaquoi.

Donte Stallworth is still on the roster and hoping for a spot on the field at some point this season.

And perhaps the most intriguing member of the group, Josh Cribbs.  Remember, once upon a time Steve Smith was thought of only as a premier kick returner.  Could Cribbs follow Smith’s example and become a premier receiver as well?

 

Prognosis

For the prognosis and final record, read the originally posted article here.

 

This is an original article by Pigskin Heaven Staffer, Sascha Bartels. You can read it, more of Sascha's articles, and more from the Pigskin Heaven staff here.

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