With the 2009 regular season quickly winding down, the Cleveland Browns probably wish it was just starting. Coming off a 13-7 win over their hated rival, the Browns snapped a 12 game losing streak to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the game, Cleveland recorded eight sacks and rushed for 171 yards. Those kind of numbers are usually put up by playoff bound teams, not someone with a 2-11 record. All they can do now is finish the season strong and make a good impression on their new “Czar”, whoever he may be.
Eric Mangini probably wishes he had more games to state his case. The team has come a long way this year with plenty of pot holes and road blocks along the way. Finally it looks like Brady Quinn may be the QB Cleveland thought he would be. He might never be a Peyton Manning but he’s taking care of the football while showing he’s pretty good at running the no huddle offense. Cleveland’s offense has been showing signs of like under Quinn, while finding a few surprises in tight end Evan Moore, running back Chris Jennings and wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi. Throw in the versatile Josh Cribbs and an improving offensive line and the Browns have some positives to build on.
On the defensive side, you have to be impressed with the job Rob Ryan’s done. Losing five key members to injuries is very hard to overcome. Ryan has plugged in Matt Roth, Ahtyba Rubin, Brian Schaefering, Marcus Benard, Jason Trusnik, Mike Adams, and Kaluka Maiava while moving David Bowens from OLB to ILB and the defense has acually shown improvement.
With the Kansas City Chiefs as their next opponent, the Browns will look to continue their growth as a team. At 3-10, the Chiefs have lost three in a row since beating the Steelers 27-24. They have given up 342 points so this bodes well for Cleveland’s offense. The Browns will definitely try to establish their ground game behind Jennings, Cribbs and Jerome Harrison. Cribbs may see some time at running back instead of just in the wildcat, a move way over due.
In a game between two teams with nothing but pride to play for, don’t bet against the Browns. Both the coaches and players are auditioning for their new “Czar”.