What To Do With So Much Free Time
So the Browns have a bye week this week. *YAWN*
I suppose it’s ok, though, because I wouldn’t want to overload this week with a Browns game and then Game 7 of the ALCS (oh please, oh please, oh please don’t let there be a Game 7). Regardless, as impressive (relatively) as the Browns’ season has been so far, it’s been hard to get too pumped up about anything going Berea-side while so much postseason action has been taking place at Jacobs Field.
I wouldn’t want to let anyone down, though, so I’ll dutily perform my duty and give you my bye week thoughts about this season so far. First off, we’re 3-3. Looking at the schedule before the season, I would have been content with 2-4. The sick thing is that we’re a blocked FG away from being 4-2….with a winless St Louis team lurking on the otherside, we’d be looking at a potential 5-2 record. Coulda, shoulda, woulda…..we’re not. We’re 3-3 and we kinda are who we think we are at this point.
The offense has been unreal. 4th in the NFL in points per game, 7th in total offense per game. All that despite that pathetic opening week performance against Pissburgh. We know now that Joe Thomas was the absolute correct pick with #3 overall selection in the draft, we know that Eric Steinbach is easily the best free agent signing of the new era Browns. With a decent anchor in Fraley at center and Tucker and Shaffer trading time at RT, we have finally established a sufficient offensive line. We are LOADED with playmakers on offense. Jamal Lewis has been solid enough, if not unspectacular, and Wright and Harrison have had some occasional flashes of mediocrity. Kellen Winslow is, frankly, a soldier. Dude plays hurt every single game, and leaves absolutely everything on the field. I don’t know how anyone could not enjoy watching him play. And at WR, Braylon Edwards has finally become the #3 overall pick-worthy brilliant player we needed him to be. Don’t take my word for it, listen to Scouts, Inc’s Matt Williamson,
John (Cincinnati): Matt, what do you think of the Browns offense? Are they legit or just overachieving?
Matt Williamson: Legit. I want to keep knocking DAnderson, but he is playing very well and improving. The OL is the key and it is a component that Clev has not had since coming back to the NFL. Braylon is a superstar-not a very good player who is emerging, but a superstar. Winslow is exceptional as well. The RBs are good enough. This O will continue to score points.
Not to even mention unheralded guys like Joe Jurevicious and Joshua Cribbs. The bottom line is, this offense is legit, and the absolute turning moment of the season was the Chuck Frye trade with Seattle. It was like giving our offense a much needed enema. After the cleansing, Derek Anderson stepped up, took the reigns, and showed us all why there had been so much hype about his abilities prior to this season.
As good as the offense has been, the defense has been equally pathetic. I’m not going to spend much time on this because, frankly, I don’t know what the answer is. We need an NFL-quality nose tackle, and we need to get younger and more atheltic on the front line. The linebackers are ok, but could probably stand to be a bit more agressive in the pursuit of the run. The secondary is an enigma. Sometimes they look really, really solid, other times they look lost and confused. Last year Sean Jones and Leigh Bodden were being praised as 2 of the best at their position. This year, you don’t hear so much, and the main reason is a true lack of consistency. Brodney Pool has stepped in nicely, for the most part, to his starting role in the secondary, while Eric Wright has struggled mightily at times, but has also shown some real promise. Once this unit gels a little more, I believe they’ll come together and form a solid secondary.
All in all, I think our team is ok. We’re not a playoff team, we’re not one of the worse teams. We’re right in the middle. And that’s a HUGE step up from where we were last year. Looking ahead on our schedule, I see lots of win-able games (@St Louis, Seattle, Houston, @Arizona, @New York Jets, Buffalo, San Fran). If we go 4-3 in those games, we’re looking at a 7-9 season. For the first time since, well, 1999, I feel confident the franchise is moving in the right direction. I’ll continue to be patient as long as results keep trickling down.