Cleveland Browns 2010 Season Preview: Hurry Up and Wait Some More
FanHouse's 2010 NFL Season Preview features division-by-division predictions based on our tried and true "Heat Index" formula. Each team is graded on a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest) in five key categories: Offense, Defense, Special Teams, Coaching and Intangibles. The higher the score, the better we think the team will be this season. Coming Sept. 2: NFC North
When Lebron James chose to take his talents to Miami, all of a sudden, Cleveland fans were once again described as an unfortunate group who always get their hearts broken.
It's true, but it didn't take James' departure to make it apparent. Poor Browns fans have been suffering every since Art Modell stole their team away and moved it to Baltimore. The replacement Browns have put together a resume of inept play on the field and awful moves off it, a combination that has tortured anyone old enough to remember when the Paul Brown-led Browns were the best run organization in football.
Offense: If Jake Delhomme is your starting quarterback, you're looking to the depth chart to see who you can replace him with. Delhomme is the clear starter for the Browns, which means Cleveland fans will be cheering for Seneca Wallace from the moment Delhomme throws the first of his many ill-advised interceptions. If/when Delhomme falls flat, Wallace, the backup in Seattle for several years, may get his best shot at a starting job. Both of the quarterbacks were supposed to be just buying time for the Browns to develop a young quarterback, but Colt McCoy has looked so bad this preseason that there have been rumblings he could be cut. Jerome Harrison was great over the final month of the 2009 season, but the tailback is expected to be pushed by rookie Montario Hardesty. Cleveland's receiver corps is still one of the worst in the league, but the offensive line is solid, led by Pro Bowler Joe Thomas. Heat Index: 3.
Defense: He's not as quotable or as famous as his brother Rex, but the job Rob Ryan did with the Browns' defense last year was as impressive as anything Rex has done with the Jets. With almost no talent, Rob Ryan dialed up more and more blitzes with some success, which led to a late-season turnaround that saved head coach Eric Mangini's job. Ryan's defense did it while swapping in and out a revolving cast of replacement level players. Even now, there is very little established talent in Cleveland, although the additions of first-round pick Joe Haden and free-agent Sheldon Brown should improve a leaky secondary. Up front, Cleveland is counting on Shaun Rogers staying motivated and on finding a pass rush from what is a pretty mediocre group of outside linebackers. Heat Index: 4.
Special Teams: The offense may be poor and the defense mediocre, but thanks to Joshua Cribbs, the Browns expect to have one of the best special-teams units in the league. Cribbs is an excellent threat to bring back a kick or punt at any time. Phil Dawson is an excellent kicker and Reggie Hodges is an adequate punter. Heat Index: 9.
Coaches: Eric Mangini has shown an amazing ability to rub players, media and fellow coaches the wrong way. Bill Belichick and Nick Saban have used that approach to great success, but unlike them, Mangini hasn't shown that he's a winner. The Browns will try to go with a West Coast offense (whether Delhomme is a good fit for that is an open question), but there are far less concerns about the defense, which is in good hands with Ryan. Heat Index: 4.
Intangibles: Ever since the "new" Browns arrived, they've been one of the worst run, most dysfunctional organizations in sports. The Browns have started over multiple times, and still have the feel of a expansion team more than a decade after their return. Mike Holmgren's arrival may finally change that, but he's starting from scratch. Heat Index: 5.
Overall: 25/50. The Browns would be in rebuilding mode if they were in a bad division, but playing in a division where the other three teams should challenge for a playoff spot means the Browns are in real trouble.