Cleveland Browns – Off Season Team Needs

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The Browns, by all accounts, were the worst team in the NFL during the 2009 season. It’s a miracle that Eric Mangini is still eating from his Browns paycheck. But for a team in turmoil, there sure is a lot of talent on this squad. It’s now football czar Mike Holmgren’s job to put that talent together and create some winning ways.

What Went Wrong in 2009: Don’t let the Browns’ 5-11 record fool you. The Browns started the 2009 season 1-11 before winning their last 4 against the Steelers, Chiefs, Raiders, and Jaguars. The Browns’ other lone win? Against the Bills. The Steelers were okay last season, but were clearly a shell of their former Super Bowl winning selves. The other 4 teams? Come on, you can’t seriously tell me that any of those 4 teams scare you.

The Browns’ defense ranked in the bottom half of the league in both rushing and passing defense. But don’t let those numbers fool you. The Browns’ defense ended up being on the field probably more than any other team this year. I had the opportunity to watch the Browns several times this year, and boy was their offense pitiful. The Browns generated the 3rd fewest 1st downs in the league. And on top of that, the Browns converted only 32.6% of their third down opportunities this past season. I’ll tell you what the Browns couldn’t do on offense. They couldn’t run the ball. They couldn’t pass the ball. They couldn’t get solid quarterback play. They couldn’t get receivers open. They couldn’t protect the quarterback. They couldn’t move the chains. So what exactly was it that this offense did right? Well, they have a talented offensive line (Joe Thomas, Eric Steinbach) and that’s about it.

But don’t get me wrong. It’s not like the 2009 edition of the Browns’ defense was anything comparable to the 2000 Ravens or anything. They had their own share of issues. They had issues stopping both the run as well as the pass. And at times, the Browns did look a lot like a high-school team on the field. However, there is a lot more talent on this side of the ball. Shaun Rogers, D’Qwell Jackson, and Kamerion Wimbley are all guys that you can build a defense around. Even Eric Wright has a some talent and could be a strong no. 2 cornerback for the Browns. It’s really just going to take someone like Mike Holmgren to put this talent together into a serviceable defense.

Who Could Be Gone: Well, Derek Anderson, Rex Tucker, Jamal Lewis, Hank Poteat, Hank Fraley, Brodney Pool, and Rex Hadnot (among others) have already been shown the door out. Shaun Rogers also reportedly wants to be traded. There are now grumblings of Brady Quinn being gone as well. When a team is this bad, like I’ve said before, there are no safe jobs for players.

Biggest Team Needs: Other than quarterback and receiver, the Browns are really at least mediocre everywhere. This gives the Browns the luxury going into the draft of truly choosing the best player available. Ideally, the Browns would love to get one of the top two quarterbacks (Jimmy Clausen, Sam Bradford) in the draft. However, assuming that both quarterback are off the board at the no. 7 pick, Eric Berry may fall here. Gerald McCoy may fall here. If neither of those two players are available, the Browns may reach here for a guy like Joe Haden or Dez Bryant. While neither player had a great combine, both are clearly top-flight talents that could give in immediate injection of life to the defense or offense, respectively.

The Browns have already brought in Seneca Wallace, Tony Pashos, Antonio Bryant, Scott Fujita, and as of today, Ben Watson. There are also some grumblings of former-Panther Jake Delhomme coming to Cleveland. Even if Delhomme comes to town, all of these signings are good, but not great. The Browns still face needs at receiver and quarterback after letting go of Donte Stallworth and Derek Anderson (not that either player played spectacularly well in 2009, if they played at all). Because the Browns have not yet made a serious play for any of the big name quarterbacks of receivers in free agency, one has to assume that the Browns will be addressing these needs through the draft. Keep your radar on guys like Dezmon Briscoe, Tony Pike, and Damian Williams come draft day.

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write by hernandez

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