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From ClevelandBrowns.com


The second in a series of lookaheads at the Browns' first four opponents.


From a Browns perspective, let's go ahead and forget last year's Broncos' comeback victory in Cleveland Browns Stadium.


Going back more than 20 years, too many games in the Browns-Broncos rivalry are ones Clevelanders would rather forget. But this year's Week Two game in Denver is about what's new. That starts with new head coaches for each team, Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniels.


Not only will much (almost everything) be new for both teams, but they'll be implementing similar schemes and systems as the coaches share roots. And this will be a very big game for both teams. If you're 1-0 after Week One, Week Two is huge. If you're 0-1, it might be even bigger.


2008 RECAP: The 2008 Broncos started 3-0 but lost their last three and lost the AFC West (by 31 at San Diego) on the final night of the season, leading to a change at the top not many saw coming. Longtime coach Mike Shanahan has been replaced the by 32-year old McDaniels, whose remake of the roster has included signing 13 veteran free agents, trading Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler and switching to a 3-4 base defense.


The '08 Broncos finished in the bottom six in nearly every defensive category, including 30th in points and 29th in yards allowed. And a team that for years spit out 1,000-yard backs from varying backgrounds has to feel like it used 1,000 backs -- but they all got hurt. Five players ran for at least 200 yards but none ran for more than 343.


There were more than a few wild, high-scoring games, but not enough that ended in the Broncos' favor.


STAR POWER: The young receiving duo, Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal, is on its way to being as dangerous as any 1-2 punch (if it's not already there). Presumptive starting quarterback Kyle Orton was up and down in his time in Chicago, but he was never surrounded by offensive talent like this. Champ Bailey is entering his 11th season, but he can still be Champ Bailey if he can stay healthy; he missed seven games last year. The Broncos will also be counting on instant impact from their two first-round picks, running back Knowshon Moreno and pass rusher Robert Ayers.


FREE AGENCY: The Broncos were busier than any team in March. The result is a totally remade roster that includes new frontline starters (Orton, Brian Dawkins, Renaldo Hill and potentially both first-rounders) and veteran role players (Jabar Gaffney, Andra Davis, Corell Buckhalter, LaMont Jordan, Darrell Reid, even long snapper Lonnie Paxton) that McDaniels feels can help the Broncos win right away. New coach, new quarterback, new running backs, new defense. New everything.


DRAFT ADDITIONS: The Broncos had two first-round picks (Moreno and Ayers) and then essentially added a third when they traded their 2010 first-rounder to get back into the second round and take Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith. They added two more defensive backs (Darcel McBath and David Bruton) by the end of Round Four.


AREAS OF CONCERN: With so much new, including the system and the quarterback, it could take the offense a while to find its stride. And just about everything is new on defense -- though that may not be a bad thing with the way last season ended. Expect at least six (and maybe more) new starters in the Broncos' opening day defensive lineup. Expect to see some more high-scoring shootouts, but probably not a whole season full of them. McDaniels hopes not, anyway.


CHESS GAME: It's not just going to be the second game for two new coaching staffs. It's a battle between coaches who will be familiar with each other. Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniels worked together in New England; McDaniels and Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll broke in the same year as low-level Patriots assistant, a gig that led to plenty of bling for both of them. The Browns' other coordinators, Rob Ryan and Brad Seeley, were on a couple of those staffs as well. This game will be big for both teams in terms of establishing identities and areas of strength.


POTENTIAL KEY MATCHUP: Marshall and Royal vs. Brandon McDonald and Eric Wright


We know how this one went in the fourth quarter of last year's game. Maybe the deep passing game won't be as dangerous with Cutler now in Chicago, but both young receivers can make big plays. The Browns are hopeful an additional year's experience and a better pass rush will help McDonald and Wright have a big '09 season.


FINAL NOTE: The Broncos open the season in Cincinnati and the Browns host the Vikings before this Week Two meeting. The Broncos lead the all-time series 17-5; the Browns' last win came in Denver in 1990.


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Im just taking a guess here but i believe because mangini has more discipline and experience as a head coach than josh and a better core defense and offense the browns will prevail in a hard fought game sending denver to 0-2..orton will melt under pressure so its essential that we get to him frequently just to let him know we are there..;)

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Im just taking a guess here but i believe because mangini has more discipline and experience as a head coach than josh and a better core defense and offense the browns will prevail in a hard fought game sending denver to 0-2..orton will melt under pressure so its essential that we get to him frequently just to let him know we are there..;)


I would argue that Denvers core offense is better, the deffense there is no question you guys win. I think the OP downplayed Moreno a little too much. Bronco nation is upside down right now, but the core components of our running game stayed in place. Turner and Dennison still coach the RB's and O-line, and I fully expect Moreno to be in the same ZBS that Denver has used succesfully for over a decade. Last year, despite 8 RB's going down to injury, we still had a top 10 Rushing team**, I don't see that changing despite everything else that is. I think the Broncos went to a ball control smash mouth running team in the period of about a month when we traded Cutler and picked up a first round back.


As for our deffense, everything has changed, and nothing has changed. Everyone talks about moving to the 3-4 but they keep overlooking the coach (McDaniels) who keeps saying we will run a hybrid, and that any given week we will do "whatever gives us the chance to win the game". I think the D is in transition to a 3-4 but I wouldn't be at all suprised to see a 4-3 base especially early on in the season. Scheme not withstanding the roster has quiet a few name changes, but not that many upgrades in talent as far as I can tell. With Dawkins Safety should be improved, but I am not convinced CB is. I think Bly was good, but nobody can cover for the 6 seconds our front 7 were consistantly allowing for the recievers to get open.


On the front 7 it's a guessing game, I am not even sure who will be starting NT at this point if we do go 3-4. Fields, 2nd string SanFran cast off that came with the D-Cord, or Baker, big boddied UDFA with character issues and stamina problems? Neither really wows me. The only solid addition is Ayers, and rookies have a hard time contributing to begin with. Add in the fact that they are currently listing him at OLB a position he is not that familiar with and I doubt he has much impact this year, and especially in the early games of the season. LB looks good but only by taking DE's and moving them outside. If we have questions at NT and DE, how can the LB's get loose to make plays. In a 3-4 the line has to engage to allow the LB's to make the plays and I don't see that happening.


As far as getting to Orton goes, that may be a problem, our O-Line is fairly solid. Homers on my board say that the whole line should have gone pro-bowl. I don't buy that but do think Clady and Harrison were both deserving. It is going to be interesting to see how Orton does when he isn't scrambling for his life every play AND has true recieving threats to throw to instead of the depleted recieving core he had in Chicago. I don't think he will be a star, but he might be serviceable, especially if defenses are forced to stack the box against Moreno.


All in all it should be an interesting game, two new, developing teams early in the season struggling to establish thier identities. I really hope the Broncos don't go into this game 0-1, after you we play Oakland, and then it hits the fan on our schedule. A nine game run where we play San Diego twice, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Washington, the Giants, New England, Indianapolis, and Philladelphia. I think that stretch will get us somewhere between 0-9 to 3-6. If we can't beat Cinci in the first game we could well be looking at 1-11. McDaniels would be close to the least popular person in Denver at that point.


I am sure we will discuss this one more around the end of week 1, but until that point let me close by saying good luck, heres hoping for a good game with no injuries or penalties.


**Edit: Oops wrong information, we were 12th running last year. Still not bad for losing 8 guys to injury and starting a guy who had been hocking Cellphones at the begining of the year, but factually incorrect. Sorry about that.

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