Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The 2007 Cleveland Browns: A Look Back

This season the Browns took a big step forward and won 10 games. Although they did not make the playoffs, this season was amazing. This season basically started during the last off-season when the Browns were able to pick up a couple of players from division rivals in RB Jamal Lewis (formerly of the Ravens) and OL Eric Steinbach (formerly of the Bengals). Then on Draft day they picked up 3 excellent players in the first 2 rounds in LT Joe Thomas (from Wisconsin), QB Brady Quinn (from Notre Dame) and CB Eric Wright (from UNLV).

Early in the season many were calling for Brady Quinn to start especially after the opening day game against Pittsburgh when Charlie Frye looked horrible. During that week Frye got traded to Seattle and Derek Anderson was named the starter. Everyone speculated that Anderson would just start until their Bye Week and the Quinn would get to start from that point on. But Anderson stepped up big time and began to lead the Browns to their best season since 1994 when the Browns went 11-5. Anderson had a QB rating of 82.5, racking up 3787 yards and 29 TDs. His two main targets were WR Braylon Edwards and TE Kellen Winslow. Edwards caught 80 balls for 1289 yards with 16 TDs to have his first great season since he was drafted out of the University of Michigan. His 16 TDs were a Browns record formerly held by Gary Collins (whose former team high was 13). For Kellen Winslow his issues have been primarily injury based, but this season he stepped up and recorded 82 receptions for 1106 yards and 5 TDs. Jamal Lewis gained 1304 yards on 298 attempts and 9 TDs and a large part of their excellent numbers were due to the offensive line of Joe Thomas, Eric Steinbach, Hank Fraley, Ryan Tucker and Kevin Shaffer.
The Defense took a step in the right direction but still has a lot of improving to do. LB D'Qwell Jackson had 101 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception while OLB Kamerion Wimbley had 51 tackles and a team high 5 sacks. Of course the team did give up a total of 2072 yards rushing and that was a large reason as to why the Browns did not win more games than they did.
Of course there was the Special Teams. Phil Dawson had many big game-winning field-goals this season including going 2 for 2 in overtime. Josh Cribbs has also had a great season and was rewarded with a trip to the Pro Bowl. Cribbs returned 2 kickoffs and 1 punt for touchdowns this season and had many other returns that led to many scoring drives.
Hopefully this was a season that the Browns can build on, but they will need to improve. Here are a few things that the Browns should/could do to help themselves:
  1. Keep Derek Anderson: let Brady Quinn get another year of learning on the bench.
  2. Re-sign Jamal Lewis: Lewis played well for the Browns this season and he has plenty left in the tank.
  3. Pick up a #2 type WR: After Braylon's 80 receptions and Joe Jurevicius' 50 receptions the next highest reception amount by a WR was 8 by Tim Carter. If the Browns can get a good #2 receiver then they could move Joe Jurevicius to their #3 receiver and they could have a better offensive output.
  4. Sign Albert Haynesworth from the Tennessee Titans: DT Shaun Smith played well while recording 62 tackles and 2 sacks, but the defense does need a run-stopper which is exactly what Haynesworth is.
  5. Add depth: there are many positions where the Browns are young and inexperienced. Adding depth could help keep some of the older guys healthier and hopefully the Browns will be able to go back to the playoffs and eventually to their first Super Bowl.

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