(This is a continuation of last weeks article on game one at the following link: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/190949-ready-for-war-the-broncos-schedule-uncovered-part-one)
Game 2 at Denver, Sunday 9/20
The Browns had a meltdown last season, similar to Denver's in which they lost their last six games. Blame it on the offense, blame it on the defense...."Blame it on tha Henny."
Everyone on the Browns team had their hand in the cookie jar, when it came to their end-of-the-year explosion.
The Browns have a new coach in Eric Mangini. Mangini came from the Jets and brought a lot of the Jets' players with him. Mangini signed eight players from the Jets squad. Will the NFL change their name to the Cleveland Brets this year, a la the Denver Browncos of 2006?
The Browns' offense ended the year ranked at 31st overall in the total offensive yards and passing yards categories. The Browns still don't have a starting quarterback, though they have two good choices in Quinn and Anderson. With a look at their draft and free agent acquisitions, the Browns may be moving towards more of a spread offense, which wouldn't be a surprise since Mangini is a Belichick-desciple.
The Browns drafted two wide receivers in the second round and signed three more in free agency (Mike Furrey, Syndric Steptoe, and David Patten). They also added Robert Royal, a receiving tight end and decent blocker. All of these guys put together, form a "team" of receivers, rather than having one superstar.
Each of these players is capable of getting 400 to 500 yards, in the 2,3,4,5 wide receiver position. Furrey had one 1000-yard season in Detroit and Patten was a huge target for Tom Brady during the Super Bowl years. Alongside Braylon Edwards, this receiving corps should be enough to bring their passing offense back into the top 20.
With the addition of new draftee Alex Mack, the Browns are looking for more aggressiveness in the front— they may play Mack at guard or center. Also, an interesting free agent signing was George Foster. Foster never fit in the Broncos' system and looks to have lost his starting job in Detroit as well.
I have always thought that Foster, at 6'5, 338 pounds, would play an excellent guard in the NFL. This may be where they are looking to place Foster. I don't believe he can win a starting job at either of the tackle spots. Foster also will be competing with new free agent signee John St. Clair, who can play guard or tackle.
Jamal Lewis will be back, totting the rock again. He was able to get 1,000 rushing yards last season, but the line needs to do a better job of pushing forward, as he only scored four touchdowns.
The loss of Kellen Winslow should effect the Browns somewhat, but their relationship was so rocky, I think it may make them a better team in the long run. I think this will give other players a chance to step up and contribute, rather than sitting back and letting "tha soulja" take over.
The defense got beat up at inopportune moments last year, which led to their losses and low rankings. The defense ranked 26th overall in yards allowed with their rush defense leading the way ranking 28th in the NFL.
The additions of linebackers Eric Barton and David Bowens, should shore up the left side of the line and help stop the run. The addition of defensive end Kenyon Coleman, will give the Browns a stout run-stopper to man the left corner. Hopefully, the Browns star nose tackle, Shaun Rogers, will come back and play again for the Browns.
If they don't save this situation quickly, they may end up giving him up to another team part way through the summer. Defensive Tackle C.J Mosley has been brought in as insurance, in case this happens.
Overall, I think the Browns have improved enough to have a better season than 4-12. With their new coach Mangini at the helm, I see him turning the club around much like he did for the Jets. However, there are still a lot of questions for this team on both sides of the ball.
Who will be the starting Quarterback? What will happen with Shaun Rogers?
Even though the Broncos had a better record, both teams have so many similarities that it makes them somewhat of an even match up. The Broncos get the edge for playing at home. Eventually the Broncos running game will wear down the Browns defense and the Broncos will prevail.
Broncos 17, Browns 9