Bob Costas: "Hello again, this is your host Bob Costas and welcome back to The Best Damn Browns Preview. Since your probably banging your head into the wall after hearing me pontificate for thirty years, let's send it straight down to Malcolm."
Defense: I feel like Romeo and Mel Tucker used to send out the Browns defense and tell them, "Go out there and have fun. Remember it's doesn't matter if you win or lose but how you play the game. Now remember Shaun,your no different than anyone else. You also have to count to three Mississippi before you rush the passer. Oh, by the way, the offense sucks so you probably will be on the field for most of the game but fear not, we have the oxygen masks ready to go."
Undoubtedly, the Browns defense still has it's question marks; the lack of play-makers and the perennial dearth of pass rush just to name a few, but we still should be much better than last years squad.
Remember Terry Cousin and Travis Daniels? They was a nightmare. How about Andra "drag me five yards" Davis? Can't you just see him hanging on to L.T. for the last twenty yards of a touchdown run in Denver? One thing you have to give him credit for; he wasn't able to bring you down, but no matter what you did he never let go.
And who can forget the "leadership" Big Willie brought to the team. We can't, because Mary Kay wrote eight articles reminding us. Point is, at least this season we should get to see a real live NFL-style defense with all the trimmings, like hitting and blitzing.
Defensive Line: Probably all around the best unit on the team which includes our only true stud in Shaun Rogers(sorry Joe Thomas, I for one did not think you were a Pro Bowler last year) and two lunch-pail types in Robaire Smith and Kenyon Coleman. It really hit the Browns hard when Robaire when down last season.
These guys do exactly what "3-4" lineman are supposed to do; A) hold the point of attack and two gap and B) collapse the pocket if possible, which is why Corey Williams is such a horrible fit for this defense since he does none of those things well(which just further illustrates what kind of bonehead Phil Savage was. How do you trade a second round pick for him and give $38 million to a guy to do something he has never done before? What was he thinking?).
I do expect to see him on passing downs when we can utilize his ability to shoot the gaps, which is what he did in Green Bay (Ironically the Packers also switched to the "3-4" defense this off season under Def. Coordinator Dom Capers, but the scheme they run calls for the defensive lineman to shoot the gaps which is what he's good at).
Ahtyba Rubin and C.J. Mosely are also talented players which gives the Browns good depth. Rubin especially had a solid training camp and preseason.
Linebackers: I'm really down on Kamerion Wimbley. Sure, I know the coaches plan to move him around this year. The little boy Browns fan inside me has already created highlight reels of Wimbley taking off Big Ben's head but then reality sets in. I just don't think it will help. This guy doesn't lack the work ethic, talent or intensity to get it done. Is it really the elusive "counter move" or is it in his head? It's just so frustrating after the monster rookie season he had.
On the other hand Eric Barton is a huge upgrade over Andra Davis inside, and he's only a decent player at best. Not having Davis should shave the YPC by a half a yard at least. Everyone talks about D'quell Jackson being close to a Pro Bowl player; I say he's definitely tackles a lot of people but he doesn't make enough impact plays. He might get there though.
David Bowens? Decent Veteran. Alex Hall? Needs more consistency but love his talent. David Veikune? Encouraging preseason until the Bears game; got a lot of first-team reps. Kaluka Maiva? Special team demon. Leon Williams? Wondering why he made the team.
Secondary: Max Rage (my colleague over at http://www.brownsrant.com/) loves the corners. I'm afraid of them. They are ball hawks but young and too inconsistent in coverage.
And what's with the celebrations and gyrations every time your opponent throws a incomplete pass? Are you guys totally oblivious to the fact that this is a very common occurrence? That it happens approximately 40 percent of the time?
Maybe Hank Poteat can provide some "veteran leadership" while he fights for the nickel back spot with Coye Francies, who is looking very, very good. I think Abe Elam and Brodney Pool will get beat deep plenty this year. I hate to say it but I'd be more comfortable if we had Sean Jones back there.
Built in excuses for defense: Too many Jets; Rob Ryan's hair was getting in the way of the chalk board during meetings; Bryan Cox is a "butt head"; lack of playmakers; we never blitz.
Bottom Line: Again, I don't see how this unit doesn't improve at least against the run. Against the pass we could be in for a very long season. Mangini must find a way to manufacture some pass rush. One of the main factors is going to be the struggle between Rob Ryan and Manfini and ultimately between Mangini and himself. How aggressive will the Browns be? I have yet to hear anyone say; "You know why they lost? Because they were just too aggressive"
Well that's it. Hope you enjoyed it. One last note. Every year we get all psyched up about the Browns and every year they deliver mind numbing disappointment. Remember how deflated every one was after the pathetic showing against the Cowboys last year.
Troll the message boards and you will see Browns fans predicting "7-9" or "8-8" seasons. Even a few occasional playoff picks. Now check out what the local and national media predicts. I'm not saying they know what they're talking about, I'm just saying that we as fans our a little biased.
Of course, we should demand excellence from our team but we shouldn't expect it like it's the most natural thing in the world as if we were Pat's fans. We're not. We're Browns fans, and I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world. Even if it means rooting for Jamal Lewis.
Malcolm Mathers is just a regular guy who maintains a blog at http://www.brownsrant.com/