2009 Cleveland Browns: Season Preview
By Wilson of Predictem.com
2008 Record: 4-12 (4th in AFC North) ATS 7-9, O/U 5-9
Stadium: Cleveland Browns Stadium
Head Coach: Eric Mangini
Superbowl Odds: +6000
Training Camp Site: Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio
Training Camp Dates: July 23 August 16
Intro: The Cleveland Browns suffered a major setback last year as they were a favorite pick to be atop the AFC North, but an off-and-on offense never got rolling and the defense could not keep up with constantly being on the field. Needless to say, the Browns never lived up to their expectations in 2008.
Another thorn in the Browns side last season was the injuries and poor play of the QBs. QBs Derrick Anderson and Brady Quinn both suffered injuries which ultimately led to the teams inability to hang with the competition.
The Browns will enter the 2009 campaign with a lot of questions yet to be answered especially at the QB position but it will likely be Quinn behind center. Either way, the Browns have not scored an offensive TD in 24 quarters! That number is scary, very scary and may cause a mental issue as the entire team is well aware of the pathetic stat.
New head coach, Eric Mangini, will be charged with the task of turning this team around and his first move will be deciding who gets the start at QB. Mangini spent three seasons in New York with the Jets where he showed signs of brilliance but now he takes on the challenge to replenish a faded Browns program.
Whos New? LB David Bowens, LB Eric Barton, DE Kenyon Coleman, S Abram Elam, OT George Foster, QB Brett Ratliff
Key Draft Picks: C Alex Mack (California Bears) WR Brian Robiskie (Ohio State Buckeyes)
Whos gone? QB Ken Dorsey, TE Kellen Winslow, RB Jason Wright
Offense: The QB concern will be again, at the forefront and that will determine what direction the Browns go this season. Will it be the Quinn or Anderson? Look for Quinn to edge out Anderson even though Anderson has the stronger limb to chuck the ball deep.
WR Braylon Edwards will most likely be the offensive MVP if he can overcome his lackluster 2008 season. Edwards pulled in 80 passes in `07 and racked up over 1280 yards. If he can pick up his game and avoid mental errors (drops) he should carry the receiving corps if not the entire offense.
Jamaal Lewis will once again assume duties as the No. 1 RB out of the backfield. Lewis is a tough runner who can break tackles and takes care of the football. If Lewis carries the pigskin 20 or more times per game he will make an impact and tire out opposing defenses. Jerome Harrison will serve as backup RB. He can make plays when called on and has the ability to make guys miss in the open field.
The offensive line for the Browns will be decent and should provide enough protection and blocking to help the playmakers do their thing. With the addition of rookie Alex Mack, given that he takes the job away from Hank Fraley, the Browns look to be even stronger.
Defense: New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will operate out of the 3-4 scheme. Ryans number one concern on defense will be to improve the pass rushing game. Cleveland only had 17 sacks last year, and Ryan knows that number needs to go way up.
Leading the defense will be NT Shaun Rodgers. Rodgers was one the best defensive lineman in the NFL in 2008. At 350 pounds, Rodgers has incredible speed and his tackles amount to those more common to a linebacker. Other teams often double team him which is a great thing for the Browns as it usually creates an open lane for other defenders to attack the play.
The Browns defensive backs will need to step up as they have played inconsistent in recent years. The coaching staff is looking for CBs Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald to pick up their games a bit and lead the secondary. Adding to the secondary leadership will be SS Abram Elam and FS Brodney Pool.
Linebacker, DQwell Jackson had a great `08 season with 154 tackles, 3 INTs, and 2 sacks. Jackson is a guy the defense cant afford to lose to injury or anything else.
Special Teams: Perhaps the brightest and best unit on the Browns entire roster is the special teams guys. Joshua Cribbs is one the best return guys in the league and has the speed to break away from the crowd and is tough enough o run through guys as well.
P Dave Zastudil was among the top of the league last year in net punting. PK Phil Dawson knocked down 30 of 36 FG attempts. Id say the Browns just leave these guys alone and let them take care of their business. If it aint broke
2009 Cleveland Browns Schedule:
September 13 Minnesota Vikings
September 20 at Denver Broncos
September 27 at Baltimore Ravens
October 4 Cincinnati Bengals
October 11 at Buffalo Bills
October 18 at Pittsburgh Steelers
October 25 Green Bay Packers
November 1 at Chicago Bears
November 8 BYE
November 16 Baltimore Ravens
November 22 at Detroit Lions
November 29 at Cincinnati Bengals
December 6 San Diego Chargers
December 10 Pittsburgh Steelers
December 20 at Kansas City Chiefs
December 27 Oakland Raiders
January 3 Jacksonville Jaguars
Betting Odds and Projections:
Lets be real honest here, the Browns dont exactly have a Pro-Bowl cast of playmakers on either side of the ball but they might just surprise some teams. If they get a QB who can lead, and stay healthy they may be able to put together a decent run for the division.
With new blood in the system from the top to the Offensive and Defensive coordinators, maybe this team will be rejuvenated and perform on a higher level.
The Vegas Sportsbooks and most Online Sportsbooks have the Browns at 60 to 1 (+6000) to win superbowl XLIV. The Browns like the role of underdog, so maybe this season will be their turning point. Luck to ya.