Browns pre-season preview- the offense

Well, let’s get offensive. Actually, can we be less offensive (off-fence-ive) when we braylonedwards.jpghave the ball? What the Browns have been doing for the past several years has been an embarrassment to football. Can we move the ball this year? Can we, heaven braylonedwards.jpgbraylonedwards.jpgforbid, cross the goal line more than once or twice a game? Let’s pick the offense apart. (Why not us, everyone else in the league did…thank you, thank you very much, I’ll be here all week)braylonedwards.jpgbraylonedwards.jpgbraylonedwards.jpgbraylonedwards.jpg

We’ll start with the line. The big move in free agency was adding Eric Steinbach. The Browns gave the former Bengal more than 7 million per season. That’s a lot of money for a guard, but let’s face facts- the Browns haven’t sniffed a pro-bowl lineman since they returned to the league. Steinbach has that kind of potential. He should be a huge upgrade on the left side of the line. The next major move was drafting Joe Thomas. Thomas will have big shoes to fill, as he is expected to be in the mold of Orlando Pace, Walter Jones, and Jonathon Ogden. That might be too much to place on Thomas’ shoulders, but he should be better than say Robert Gallery. (Continued jamal.jpgjamal.jpgafter the jump.)

The addition of Thomas should push Kevin Shaffer to the right side. There is always the possibility of Thomas holding out, but let’s be optimistic and say that he reports to camp and wins the left tackle job. Moving Shaffer to right tackle could push Ryan Tucker to right guard. Or, McKinney could stay at guard and Tucker could be the first reserve. Here’s a better scenario. LeCharles Bentley is trying to come back this season. If there is a way that LeCharles comes back and is productive, then he could play center, or that right guard spot, and leave Fraley at center. If Bentley can be close to what he was before the injury, this creates quite a line, and some actual depth. Personally, I don’t think this is going to happen. I can’t see Bentley coming back this soon from such a major ordeal, especially with the infection after the surgery. Regardless- this line is improved with Steinbach and Thomas added, and Tucker returning. Grade- B- (would be B+ if Bentley plays)

Tim Carter was added to the receiving corps, and Northcutt signed with Jacksonville. Braylon Edwards is the big play man in the group, and should continue to improve as he enters his third season. Last year Braylon had 61 catches for 884 yards and 6 scores. If he doesn’t improve on all three of those totals this group is in trouble. Carter has never caught more than 26 passes in a year. He has never caught more than 2 touchdowns. Don’t expect a whole lot from Carter. Northcutt’s numbers are much better than Carter’s. Jurevicius will play opposite Edwards, Carter or Travis Wilson, or Josh Cribbs will be the slot man. This is not a group that strikes fear in your heart. The grade for the wide receivers- C-

Fortunately, the Browns have one of the best groups of tight ends in the league. Winslow showed last year that he still has the potential to be a star in this league. Heiden would start for a lot of teams in this league. If Winslow is able to play in camp, there is no reason he shouldn’t improve on his totals from last year, giving the Browns a receiving threat they are missing after Edwards. Tight end grade- A-

Well, pick your poison, the running backs or the quarterbacks. Alright, let’s do the quarterbacks. Brady Quinn will be the next Big Ben, starting 14 games and leading the team to the playoffs….no. No he won’t. No, he probably won’t sniff the field this year, until the Browns have either lost 8 games, or both Frye and Anderson to injury. Hopefully Quinn will be the man in the future. I say that not because I like Quinn, or because I don’t like Frye or Anderson. I say that because we gave up a #1 pick for him. Plus, we drafted him at #22. In essence, we are saying that Quinn is going to be worth two #1 picks. Let’s say for the sake of argument that the Browns improve this year and finish 8-8. That would be a 4 game improvement by the way. That would put the Browns somewhere between pick 14 and pick 18. So let’s say 18. Would you trade picks #18 and #22 for Quinn? That is basically what the Browns did, unless it is worse, and Cleveland ends up in the #5 to #10 pick. Then would you give up #5 and #22 for Quinn? That would be tough.

So who will start? I don’t know. My guess is that Frye will start. All we hear about is how Frye is a better game player than practice player. I hear that and think if Anderson and Frye are close at the end of camp they will start Frye. That’s my guess. Will that be the right decision? I don’t know. (Some preview huh? I went out on a limb with that one.) Honestly, I don’t think either of them is a Super Bowl type of QB. But I don’t want Quinn in there after 4 or 5 games either. Bottom line- the QB position is weak. Very weak, and learning a new system doesn’t make it much easier. Grade- D+ (I added the plus. Mostly because the D looked so bad.)

The backfield. Jamal Lewis will be 28 when the season begins. He has over 7800 yards rushing in his career, and 45 touchdowns. In the last five seasons he has missed a total of 5 games to injury. However, he missed all of 2001. We know the history against us. Why am I so disturbed by this signing? He has lost a step, there is no denying that. If the line has improved the way that I think it has, then he should have some holes to run through. Still, I am very concerned about Lewis carrying the ball 300 times this year. Yes, he will have to carry the ball that much. Backing up Lewis is Jerome Harrison, who has never carried the ball more than 4 times in an NFL game, and Jason Wright, who like Harrison, owns a 3.0 yards per carry average. Oh, and Wright has the only touchdown between the two of them. So…you feeling good about the RB position? Me neither. Grade- C- (That may turn out to be very generous if Lewis is injured.)

Overall offensive grade- C-

It could be another long year for the offense. Here’s hoping I’m wrong a little. Or a lot. Maybe Lewis has enough left in the tank, and the line performs better than any of us could hope for. My prediction for the final record- 6-10. (At least we can draft a high quality running back with next year’s top pick.)

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1 Comment

Filed under Brady Quinn, Braylon Edwards, Browns, football, Free Agency, Jamal Lewis, NFL, Sports

One response to “Browns pre-season preview- the offense

  1. Jamal Lewis can run straight ahead and bowl over a linebacker from time to time, but he’s lost the ability to bounce anything outside. Every NFL team knows this, so he won’t get anywhere near 300 carries unless the Browns are playing for the top spot in next year’s draft.

    Sure, it’s a nice story with Quinn back in Ohio, but I felt the Browns gave up too much to get him.

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