Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Only One Pig Will Need To Fly: Cleveland Browns

I'd like to start this out by noting that for some of these teams, like Cleveland, it will take a lot more than one pig for them to reach the playoffs. Also, it's not funny. However, I don't get to name the groups this year, Mr. "Communications Master" gets to.

We're in the midst of yet another meeting of the editorial staff of this distinguished panel, which is why we're going to pick lame teams to preview the next few days... and it doesn't get more dull now than the Cleveland Browns.

I really feel for Browns fans. First you have your NFL franchise stolen from you (a reality now gripping our fair city), then once it returns you've been pretty much stuck in mediocrity. Then once some talent comes your way, Kellen Winslow misses his first two seasons, Braylon Edwards goes down, and now LeCharles Bentley, the prized offseason acquisition at center, wrecks himself on the FIRST play of minicamp. That's a lot of injuries to the best young talent/hope to see.

Luckily, they have Romeo Crennel and even in year one it was apparent that the Browns were a team on the rise.

For starters, the Browns of a year ago were perhaps the least talented team in the NFL, yet managed to remain quite competitive. While they only scored a paltry 232 points, worst in the AFC, they only allowed 301, a testament to Crennel's defensive wizardry. The vaunted Raven defense allowed 299. Therefore, if the offense can improve, that 6-10 record can easily improve by a couple of games. So where's the hope?

Well, for starters they have a QB in Charlie Frye who might actually have some time in the pocket. The Browns gave up 45 sacks last season, not exactly a good situation for a young quarterback... just ask David Carr. While Frye made some mistakes in his first year (6 INTs in small playing time), his accuracy is why we should be more excited about him than, say, Alex Smith. Frye completed 59.4% of his passes, and his INT% was the same as Trent Dilfer. That bodes well for the future. With Kellen Winslow actually healthy and a returning Braylon Edwards during the year he will have enough weapons. Joe Jurevicius will sure be a help, that big target over the middle with amazing hands is sure going to be missed here.

I wouldn't be as excited about Reuben Droughns as Browns fans are. While he did crack the 1000 yard barrier, only getting 4 TDs for the year while only averaging 4.0 ypc means he's the definition of a replacement level player. Yes, the offensive line wasn't great, but Droughns isn't exactly someone who can make a bad situation better. They only had 76 rushing first downs, compared to 116 given up. The third down completion percentage was a paltry 33%. That leads to poor performance from the rushing game and until the offensive line woes are completely addressed this team is going nowhere. Of course, that's where Mr. Bentley was supposed to fit in. Now the middle of the line has to be seen as a major weakness and why the Browns are probably due to settle in for another mediocre haul. They will be better. Frye will be better, the offensive firepower is better, but the running game is just not good enough, especially in the defense-oriented AFC North.

What about the Brown defense? Well, I have to say I was rather impressed... until I looked deeper at the numbers. Again, a bad team can be spotted by bad run defense, and the Browns were weak up the middle, giving up 138 ypg at a 4.2 clip. That's fairly unimpressive, and while a good rookie crop and Willie McGinest will help, it's not the final answer. At this point I usually ignore the passing against stats, because if you can't stop the run, your pass defense is meaningless statistically. Even with some good yards against, when you give up a 40% 3rd down percentage you crack when the stakes are high.

So basically, I'm not optimistic about what the Browns are going to show. I like the coaching. Crennel is money. However, the talent is still about a year away. I think there might be a little more improvement, but the defense looks like it got a little lucky, so some of the offensive improvement is going to be offset. I don't see the Browns hitting .500.

Better luck next year with a healthy LeCharles Bentley.

posted by Gavin @ 1:13 PM  1 comments


At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Eric said...

Your forgot to add that the team gets stolen and soon after wins a Super Bowl.

Just watch your 2011 NBA champions the Oklahoma City Sonics:-(


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