As the Cleveland Browns get ready to take the field against the Tampa Bay Buccaneer for the first regular season game of 2010, it's actually kind of difficult to say what kind of team is going to take the field.
Jake Delhomme is a perfect example of this. Delhomme's 2009 was the worst of his career and resulted in his ejection to Cleveland. Prior to 2009, though, Delhomme was one of the league's better quarterbacks.
In a league that thrives on the "What have you done for me lately?" mindset, Delhomme is a washed-up ex-Pro Bowler who will let the team down again.
The idea is patently absurd from a purely philosophical standpoint, because Delhomme is just as likely to go out and throw for 4,000 yards and 50 touchdowns as he is to throw for 1,500 yards and 20 interceptions.
There are too many unknowns at this point to make a solid prediction without having a gun pointed to your head.
On paper, the Browns look light years ahead of last year, but that doesn't mean they look like a playoff team.
The hard part about predicting the first week of football is trying to find the little kernels of truth in the sea of morass that is the preseason.
There's a lot of "testing" going on during the four-game stretch that mainly features backups and guys who aren't on the team anymore.
Here's what we do know. In Game 3 of the preseason, Delhomme and his pack of wide receivers didn't look too bad. The game was versus Detroit, though, so once again, take that for what it's worth.
Delhomme showed in the preseason he still has all the tools and talent to be a successful quarterback in the NFL. If he can keep his confidence level up, not try and force the ball like he did last season, and just relax, the Browns will have come out on the winning end of this deal.
This isn't to say the Browns are a playoff-caliber team should Delhomme have a great year, because there are too many other holes and soft spots for that to be true. But a "good" Delhomme should help the Browns make it to a 7-9 record, and maybe even keep the losses from being the complete blowouts they tended to be last year.
Tampa Bay is a good first opponent, because they're a team on the rebuild as well, and a smart, experienced quarterback like Delhomme should be able to find the cracks in the seams and tear right through them.
Peyton Hillis, James Davis, and Jerome Harrison all should be major factors in the contest, and also should help take pressure off of Delhomme to "do everything."
That last part is the key factor. If Delhomme isn't feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders, then he will be much better able to get his job done because he won't be worrying about anyone else.
It's going to be an interesting weekend, but my call is for a Browns victory.