Preseason power rankings: No. 28

The Browns finished 4-12 in 2008, closing the year on a six-game losing streak. During that stretch they managed to score in double digits only once.

That “outburst” came in a 30-10 loss to the Eagles.

The finish cost coach Romeo Crennel his job.  And the Browns replaced the former Patriots defensive coordinator with . . . another former Patriots defensive coordinator.  Eric Mangini, kicked to the curb by the Jets after a Favre-led implosion in New York, landed on his feet with the Browns.

Now it’s up to Mangini to reinvigorate a franchise that has made the playoffs a grand total of two times since 1990.  Into his lap falls the quarterbacking duel between Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn.

Through two preseason games, the battle remains too close to call because neither man has been able to seize the job by the throat.  Part of the problem?  Cleveland still doesn’t have the horses offensively.  They traded out of the fifth spot in the draft to allow the Jets to take Mark Sanchez, and they dealt Kellen Winslow to the Bucs.

So now the offense will be in the hands of either the inconsistent Anderson or the still-unproven-at-this-level Quinn.  They’re throwing to an inconsistent No. 1 receiver, Braylon Edwards, and handing off to an aging lead back, Jamal Lewis. 

Even though the Browns’ offensive line, anchored by left tackle Joe Thomas, is a strong point, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is going to have to be creative to get points consistently.

On the other side of the ball, the Browns would have been pretty good last year if they weren’t so bad at stopping the run (4.7 yards per carry), stopping the pass (26th in yards allowed) and generating pressure (17 sacks).  The only real “standout” they have is nose tackle Shaun Rogers, who made it to the Pro Bowl last year.

Cleveland took baby steps in trying to tune up its defense, adding aging linebackers Eric Barton and David Bowens along with defensive lineman Kenyon Coleman and safety Abram Elam.

None are game-changers.

The Browns’ lone strength is the special teams, with kicker Phil Dawson and return man Josh Cribbs.

Still, it’s likely to be another bleak season by the lake and Mangini, who’s seemingly mastered the art of agitating players over minor things, isn’t the kind of guy to make sure the Browns’ build-out goes smoothly.

Key Player:  Quinn.  Presuming that he wins the starting job, how well he deals with the almost inevitable ineptitude of the Browns offense in 2009 will determine the tenor of his tenure in Cleveland.  

Rookie to Watch:  Mohamed Massaquoi.  The wideout from Georgia has been impressive both blocking and catching in preseason. The Browns are going to need that kind of bump from both Massaquoi (50th overall) and fellow second-round pick Brian Robiskie (36th).

Best Veteran Acquisition:  Kenyon Coleman. The 30-year-old defensive end is a good player and solid locker room presence.  He came over in the Browns’ draft-day trade with the Jets and should be a good addition up front next to the talented nose tackle Shaun Rogers.

Key Game:  Week 4, vs. Bengals. Cleveland has nasty, nasty schedule early.  They host the Vikings to open then travel to Denver and Baltimore before this game with the Bengals.  If they don’t take this one the next projected winnable game will be Week 10 against Detroit.

11 responses to “Preseason power rankings: No. 28

  1. Tom, D’Qwell Jackson, the Linebacker is a standout player as well, he led the league in tackles in 2008 if I’m not mistaken.

  2. I know this is being nitpicky, but the Cleveland Browns franchise moved to Baltimore in 1996. To use stats from the old Browns in comparing performance is inaccurate. The “Browns” franchise won the Super Bowl in 2000. The “Browns” franchise has players named Lewis, Flacco, and Mason. The team in Cleveland contains nothing Brown’s related other than the name.

  3. If you want to be nitpicky, “the team that plays football in Cleveland” has only been to the playoffs twice since 1990.

  4. While that is true, it makes Florio’s statement pointless. The old-Browns and new-Browns have nothing to do with each other, aside from name color schemes. The old Browns are the Ravens and their history should not be linked with the current Browns. Their players and personnel are completely different.

  5. WeMissYouDan,
    Your comment is both nitpicky and WRONG. Art Modell was forced to rescind his ownership rights in the Cleveland Browns, including the name, colors, history, and royalties as part of his settlement with the City of Cleveland after he tried to pull an Irsay on them.
    The franchise he then started in Baltimore, despite having all the then-Browns players on its roster, was actually an expansion franchise with its own history beginning in 1996.
    It is completely appropriate to compare this Browns team (despite how badly they suck) to previous Cleveland Browns teams as they are, in fact, the same franchise.

  6. Dan, you are idiot. Do not comment on things you know nothing about, you make yourself sound ignorant.

  7. Uh morons (those who say old browns and ravens are same team b\c the team moved),
    The ownership was the same for a while. By the time Bal got good, the old players were gone. All the players of note on the ravens were drafted after they moved. The front office has changed, the ownership has changed, etc.
    Florio could have said “the NFL team based in CLE…” to be perfectly semantically correct, but that’s overkill. Or at least would have been until you guys started to whine.

  8. As a Browns’ fan I need to comment!
    First off, whoever said it was right. Jackson is another shining light on the defense. If the man didn’t wear brown and orange we’d be worshipping the ground he walked on.
    Sean Jones was/is probably one of the more underrated safeties in the league, let’s not forgot we had him last season. If you look at him he’s been a Pro-Bowl alternate and has put up strong performances on the field.
    Other than that I will admit the defense was poor all season. The pass defense I think we can all acknowledge The Browns broke in two rookie cornerbacks.
    As for the rookie to watch, I would have to say James Davis. I believe both of our rookie receivers are extremely talented, but I also believe that The Browns won’t be throwing the ball much. Due to an undecided quarterback and a first year offensive coordinator. The offensive line like you said in the original article is indeed the strength of the team. I truly see Mangini running the ball 54-56% of the time this season. Davis getting 10-12 runs a game.

  9. I thought I’ve read it all. Nope. Now we have Clowns fans taking credit for the Ravens. Oh boy.
    Jackson, btw… of course he had a lot of tackles. Players came running through that sad defense in hoards last year. Someone had to finally stop them.
    Underrated Safety in Cleveland? Is that possible to have an underrated man in the worst secondary in the NFL?
    Man. Just suck it up. The Cleveland Browns are a joke.
    And you will soon find out Robiskie sucks. Every team has “talented” WRs. At some level. You have the worst 2 starting WR’s in the AFC. Braylon can’t catch the swine flu in a pig pen.

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