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’09 Browns preview: Turning to ‘Man-Genius’

By Gerry Dulac, Vinnie Iyer and Steve Doerschuk, SportingNews

Jul 23, 1:46 am EDT


PrintOne year after thinking they were ready to leapfrog the Steelers in the AFC North, the Browns are starting over again. And the Browns went right back to the same coaching tree for help.


Eric Mangini is the latest Bill Belichick protégé to take over in Cleveland. He follows Romeo Crennel, whose biggest sin in four seasons was never – never! – beating the Steelers, something of an unpardonable sin for Browns fans. And it will be up to Mangini to quickly lift the Browns back to where they were in 2007: a whisker from edging the Steelers for the division title.



Derek Anderson(notes), the quarterback who made the Pro Bowl in ’07, suddenly had the look of a one-hit wonder and eventually was replaced by Brady Quinn(notes) last season. Braylon Edwards(notes) went back to dropping passes. Kellen Winslow(notes), a disappointment and distraction, was traded. Even the addition of nose tackle Shaun Rogers(notes), despite his making the Pro Bowl, really didn’t improve the run defense.


It is up to Mangini to recapture what was working two years ago and make it happen again. And it will involve more than deciding who should be his quarterback: Quinn or Anderson?





Offense: With a new coaching staff that includes coordinator Brian Daboll, it remains a mystery just how the Browns might want to employ their offense. After stockpiling receivers in the offseason, maybe the Browns will spread the field and use some of the same concepts employed by the Patriots.


At the least, Mangini says he wants to be game-plan specific, meaning the Browns will try to run against teams they think they can run against and throw against teams they think they can throw against. Either way, the Browns must improve an offense that didn’t score a touchdown the final six weeks of last season.


Defense: The defense will look familiar under new coordinator Rob Ryan, who was brought in from the Raiders. Hopefully, the execution – and tackling – will be better. Under Mangini, the Browns will continue with the 3-4, just as they did under Crennel. But, to better execute the calls and get some familiarity with his system, he signed or traded for five defensive players from the Jets.


The Browns were too passive in the 3-4 under Crennel, rarely blitzing and always trying to keep the ball from getting behind them. Mangini and Ryan must be more aggressive.




Is Brady Quinn the right man for their quarterback job?

“Coming into the league, I didn’t think he was ready to be a full-time quarterback. He didn’t control the ball as well as he should. There’s no doubt he’s improved. He is a hard worker and always leading, ready to play that role. Those traits, plus a new coach, give him a new chance to impress.”

– CBS analyst Phil Simms



An opponent breaks down the Browns:


“One of the secrets to exploiting the Browns’ defense is controlling nose tackle Shaun Rogers, which isn’t easy to do, especially with one blocker. But teams are able to have success because they double- and, at times, triple-team Rogers without fear of being hurt by players left unattended.


“There are two keys to playing and executing the 3-4 defense: One of them is having a dominant nose tackle, which Rogers provided in his first season with the Browns, while the other is a dominant outside linebacker who can rush the passer and make big plays.


“Having one is mandatory, having two is a bonus, enjoyed by such few 3-4 teams as the Steelers and Chargers. And that’s what the Browns lack.


“Kamerion Wimbley(notes) was supposed to do that after being a No. 1 pick in 2006, and he showed some of that his rookie season [with 11 sacks]. But his sack totals have steadily declined [9½ combined the past two years] and he does a poor job of collapsing the pocket, often running himself out of the play.


“Tackles have learned to push Wimbley outside because he doesn’t have the inside move to counter, and the result is he is often coming from too far outside to get the quarterback. Until the Browns find or develop a playmaking linebacker, they will continue to struggle on defense.”




The Browns have a much easier schedule than last season and have a chance to fly under the radar again, especially after collapsing under the weight of all that attention they received in ’08. But Mangini has to settle on a quarterback, and he has to settle on one quickly.


There will be a certain measure of transition with the new coach, especially with all the new players, and the Browns aren’t that far away from being a playoff contender. But, until they learn how to win big games and learn how to handle adversity, they will be just another team that disappoints more often than they tantalize.


Prediction: 3-13 (fourth, AFC North)


I like Phil Simms comments.. a very objective comment and does not seem too far off base.. The main thing about this article that hits home for me are the comments regarding Rogers and exploiting the Browns defense. Teams double and tripple team him with little fear of other of unattended players hurting them.. THAT MUST CHANGE for the defense to get better. DA being a one hit wonder??? Until he proves otherwise that's what he is.

I think we will be better than the 3 wins they predict.



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