With the first game just two days away at Tampa Bay, I can hardly wait. It’s a new season and new hope for us Browns fans.
Many changes have been made since the end of last year’s 5-11 season. As a life long fan of the Browns ( since 1960) I have seen many changes.
This year’s team will have a new quarterback along with a revamped secondary and a few new players at other key positions.
The team has a new general manager and team president in place in Tom Heckert and Mike Holmgren. Head coach Eric Mangini, who seems more relaxed, can now focus on just coaching.
When you are coming off a five win season, changes are eminent. Bringing in Jake Delhomme to replace Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn looks like a very smart move.
Leadership has been lacking from the quarterback position for what seems like forever. Delhomme will fill that role.
Rookies Joe Haden, CB, and T.J.Ward, S, will be playing key roles on defense this year. Fellow rookie Shaun Lauvao, RG, will help solidify the offensive line. Just three players but three upgraded positions.
At wide receiver, a lot of people were wanting the Browns to sign a high profile pass catcher at the position. With second year players Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi along with Chansi Stuckey and Josh cribbs, their development will be great enhanced by Delhomme.
Other weapons in the passing game are tight ends Ben Watson and Evan Moore along with fullback Peyton Hillis. Delhomme has shown the ability to spread the ball around and the Browns have plenty of players to throw to.
When they go to the Wildcat or Cyclone, the Browns will not be as predictable as last year. Cribbs now has some help in quarterback Seneca Wallace. Wallace is an outstanding athlete who will give defenses problems if they focus to much on Cribbs.
There have been several new additions added to the Brown that should improve this year’s team. Kicker Phil Dawson is not one of them. A member of the Browns since they returned to the NFL, Dawson seems to be getting better each year. He gives the Browns a nice advantage in close games.
So the first game is against Tampa Bay, a 3-13 team a year ago. This is a game the Browns should win if they can eliminate the mistakes that have hurt them in preseason.
Fumbles and penalties are two areas the Browns showed improvement in last year. I expect that to carry over into this season. On a team that will rely heavily on special teams, defense and a ball control offense, that is a must.
Always an optimist when it comes to the Browns, I can see this team winning somewhere between seven and ten games. This year’s schedule is tough and avoiding injuries will be crucial. The Browns are not a deep team.
Cleveland 24 Tampa bay 13. Look for both teams to try to establish the ground game. When the ball is in the air, tight ends will be a target of both teams. Ward must play well against the Bucs Kellen Winslow.
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