Evaluating The Cleveland Browns Offseason
Randy Lerner hired Mike Holmgren to come to Cleveland and change the fortune and path of our beloved and beleaguered Browns.
Holmgren brought in Tom Heckert, as well as a number of consultants to improve this organization. Together, they have worked to make the Browns a team that can compete in the NFL.
The Browns won four games to end the season and currently have the longest winning streak in the NFL. However, those wins were not pretty, and the Browns failed to compete with the opposition in most of last season's games.
The Browns finished last in the NFL in total offense and second-to-last in defense. With so many holes to fill, the new Browns brass has had their hands full. However, they have taken a systematic approach to improving the team across the board.
It's no secret that Holmgren believes that you cannot win consistently without ability and stability at quarterback.
If it weren't for JaMarcus Russell, the Browns would have had the worst quarterbacking in the league last year. Holmgren and Heckert addressed this problem by trading for Seneca Wallace and signing Jake Delhomme in free agency.
Delhomme immediately gives the position credibility. He is easily the best quarterback the Browns have had since their return to the league in 1999.
Delhomme is a class-act on and off the field and a great leader. If he can play to the level he did prior to last season, the Browns WILL win more games.
The Browns released Derek Anderson and traded Brady Quinn to Denver for a "bucket of balls."
Colt McCoy will have a chance down the road to become the future face of the franchise.
The Browns got Peyton Hillis in the Brady Quinn deal and he should get carries in short yardage and goal line situations. Hillis catches the ball well out of the backfield and will back up Lawrence Vickers at fullback.
The Browns drafted Montario Hardesty to share carries with Jerome Harrison next year. He is a powerful runner and will complement Harrison well.
James Davis will be the third running back, and, unfortunately, Chris Jennings should be the odd man out.
Ben Watson is a huge upgrade for the Browns. Watson is an athletic weapon and is at his best in the red zone.
The only addition at this point is Carlton Mitchell. Mitchell is an athletic player that will see time in three- and four-wide receiver sets. The Browns still need to upgrade this position with a veteran in free agency.
Tony Pashos is an average NFL tackle. The Browns added a few other players for depth on the interior. Shaun Lauvao won't start this year barring injuries.
The only addition to the defensive line is Clifton Geathers. Geathers is an amazing physical specimen, but he certainly needs to refine his game and learn the defensive end position in the 3-4 defense.
He will provide depth and future youth/athleticism on the line.
The Browns added Scott Fujita to be the leader of this group. Fujita, like Delhomme, is a great player and even better person. He should play inside.
The other major addition is Chris Gocong, who came over in the trade with Sheldon Brown. While most reports have Gocong playing inside, I believe he is better suited to playing outside.
Holmgren, Heckert and Mangini identified the defensive backfield as the primary concern this offseason, so it should be no surprise that they traded for a former Pro Bowler and drafted Joe Haden with their first round pick.
The Browns played nickel or dime packages on more than fifty percent of the defensive snaps last year.
Now, instead of having Eric Wright, Brandon McDonald and Hank Poteat on the field, they will be playing Sheldon Brown, Eric Wright and Joe Haden. It does not take much analysis to see a significant upgrade.
The safety position has certainly been the most controversial over the last few weeks/days. Everyone was hoping Eric Berry would fall to the Browns at seven overall. The assumption was that if Berry was gone, they would probably draft Earl Thomas.
After the Browns passed on Thomas in the first, they took T. J. Ward in the second round. Maybe they see something special in Ward, but my opinion is Nate Allen was their target in the second round and he got drafted one pick earlier.
The Browns added Larry Asante in the fifth round and are certainly more aggressive at the safety position heading into the upcoming season.
If you play for the Browns you better be able to contribute on special teams. Expect the rookies to fill a role on special teams.
Also, Peyton Hillis will be a key member of the kick protection and coverage units. Other than that, the Browns special teams units remain largely intact.
QB - Jake Delhomme
RB - Jerome Harrison, Montario Hardesty
FB - Lawrence Vickers
WR - Massaquoi, Robiskie, veteran?
TE - Watson
OL - Thomas, Steinbach, Mack, Womack, Pashos
DL - Smith, Rogers (Rubin), Coleman
OLB - Gocong, Roth
ILB - Fujita, Jackson
CB - Brown, Wright (Haden)
S - Elam, Ward
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