Cleveland Browns 2005 Preview

By John Onan  |   Saturday, July 30, 2005  |  Comments( 0 )

Cleveland Browns
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The Cleveland Browns wasted no time in their overhaul, bringing in a new head coach in Romeo Crennell and a new GM in Phil Savage. Crennell is best known for leading the New England Patriots defense during their three Super Bowl wins in the last four seasons. Savage spent the last 9 seasons bringing in Pro Bowl caliber talent for the Baltimore Ravens.

The house-cleaning also extended to the playing field. Phil Savage let go of the quarterback (Jeff Garcia), the defensive line (see the Broncos), and virtually the rest of last year's defense. We should also add that the Cleveland Browns will be missing TE Kellen Winslow who injured himself in a motorcycle accident and will miss the entire season.

Taking the reigns at Quarterback will be veteran Trent Dilfer, best known as the Baltimore Ravens field general during their Super Bowl winning season in 2000. From there, he's spent the last four seasons in Seattle, occasionally filling in for Matt Hasslebeck. At this point of his career, he is basically a stop gap until the next young QB emerges. Problem is, the Cleveland Browns haven't figured out who that is yet. Tim Couch obviously wasn't the answer; the former number one overall pick is out of the NFL. Cleveland did draft Charlie Frye in the 3rd round of this year's draft, but it remains to be seen if the hometown kid can be the franchise's future.

Cleveland will run the ball a whole lot this season, and they have two talented backs to do the job. Ruben Droughns, who was acquired from Denver, will be the speedy open field option while second year man Lee Suggs will do more running between the tackles. Droughns rushed for over 1,200 yards last season, while Suggs came on strong late after battling various injuries early on. Former starter William Green could be the odd-man out.

The Cleveland Browns wanted a playmaker in the fold, and drafted one when they selected WR Braylon Edwards with the third overall pick in this year's draft. Once he gets in camp, he'll most likely be starting from day one. The addition of Edwards makes them fairly deep at wide receiver. The talented duo of Dennis Northcutt and Antonio Bryant will see plenty of action alongside Braylon, but have both been somewhat inconsistent in their careers.

Coach Romeo Crennel brought along Patriots veteran Joe Andruzzi and former Tampa Bay guard Cosey Coleman to help solidify the offensive line. It may have also been an addition by subtracting letting Ross Verba walk away. Browns sources said he was a team cancer and the players are glad he's gone. RT Ryan Tucker returns to the fold and he'll need to stay healthy for Dilfer and the RBs to be successful.

The defensive side of the football is where the most questions reside, but luckily, Crennel's experience with the Pats will help. The Browns new scheme under Crennel will resemble his former team's 3-4 defense, but the personnel just isn't there yet. Last season, the Cleveland Browns had the worst run defense in football, and they should be one of the worst in 2005 as well.

The revamped defense line doesn't boast much talent in Fisk, Roye and McKinley. None are pass rushers or big run stoppers. The subs are young and may not be ready for prime time yet. The linebacking corps will be very important in this new look. How Matt Stewart, Ben Taylor, Andra Davis, and Kennard Lang perform will be the difference between respectability and disaster. They must fill the gaps from last season's horrible run defense.

In the secondary, starting corners Daylon McCutheon and Gary Baxter are pretty solid, but the rest of the cornerbacks and safeties are inexperienced. Rookie safety Brodley Pool may be a starter on opening day. Second year man Sean Jones is also basically a rookie, having missed the entire 2004 season with a torn ACL, but he might end up being the other starter at safety.

Special teams: Kicker Phil Dawson has become decent the last few years. Kyle Richardson gets another chance in the league after striking out in other places. Promising 2nd yr man Alston will return kicks once again this season, and the dangerous Dennis Northcutt will once again return punts.

Overall: The new attitude that Romeo Crennel brings to the job will show right away. This team will not quit on him. A lot of the overpriced and over hyped guys are gone, but the defensive cupboard is bare. It'll take time to find the right pieces. On offense, Dilfer brings stability and Edwards a home run threat, but make no mistake, the Browns will run the ball with Droughns and Suggs early and often. Hopefully, Winslow comes back strong in 2006 and establishes himself as one of the best TEs in the game.

Five wins would be very respectable in 2005, but not likely. However, this organization is headed in the right direction with Savage calling the shots, so the future looks bright for the Cleveland Browns.
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