Saturday, October 24, 2009

Preview of Week #7 of the 2009 NFL Season - Packers/Browns

NFL teams have 53 players on their active roster. By NFL rule, only 45 of those players can suit up each week. The Browns usually do not have a problem deciding who to suit up for their games, the problem is their lack of talent in the guts they suit up. As a result, the Browns are a team that lack both talent and depth, it took me a long time to come up with 10 players to include in the Cleveland Brown's "Top 10 List". As you will see below, the Browns are in a transition. They hired a new coach and general manager. Their general manager happens to be a close friend of their new coach, which creates an incestuous relationship in the front office. This season alone the Browns traded two players that drafted in the first round (Kellen Winslow #6 overall in the 2004 NFL Draft and Braylon Edwards #3 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft) for future non-first round draft picks. Without further ado, here are the best players currently on the Cleveland Browns:

#10 - Derek Anderson/Brady Quinn (QB): it is a sad state of affairs when you get benched (I am talking about you Brady Quinn) for a guy who has gone on to be the lowest rated passer of any starting quarterback in the NFL (take that JaMarcus Russell, there is someone worse than you starting in the NFL). In the Browns only win this season, Derek Anderson completed only 2 of 17 passes for 23 yards and 1 interception. That means Anderson completed only three passes the entire day and somehow the Browns beat the Bills 6 to 3 on the road. Part of Quinn's benching is money related, ESPN recently reported that by starting Derek Anderson this week Brady Quinn will likely lose out on $11 million in appearance bonuses over the next two seasons (source: here). Neither quarterback seems worthy of starting in the NFL, which means move over Tim Couch, there are worse QBs in Cleveland now. You play coach, here are the stat lines for Anderson and Quinn in 2009, who would you rather start?
- Anderson: 48 of 108 for 506 yards, 2 touchdowns and 6 interceptions for a quarterback rating of 41.7.
- Quinn: 45 of 74 for 400 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions for a quarterback rating of 62.9.

#9 - Jamal Lewis (RB): is a former Raven so by proxy a former Brown and now current Brown is starting the "Running Backs Over 30 Decline". Lewis ran for 1,000 yards in seven of eight seasons in the NFL. In 2005 he missed 1,000 yards by less than 100 yards and in 2008 he made 1,000 by 2 yards. Lewis is on pace for 900 yards this season and has yet to reach the end zone. All of those statistics add up to being out of the NFL soon. As with most punishing running backs like Lewis, their career literally and figuratively comes to a screeching halt. The physical running style of Lewis (attempting to run over every tacklers) does not lead to many carries after the age of 30, Lewis might be able to find an employer for the 2010 NFL season.

#8 - Cleveland Brown's 2010 1st Round Pick: I hate to do this, but the 2009 Cleveland Browns lack talent. Trading away Kellan Winslow and Braylon Edwards forced me to put their future 1st Round Pick as their 8th best player. The Browns are projected to pick in the top 5 in the 2010 NFL draft, although there are a ton of horrible teams in the NFL right now; St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Detroit, Kansas City, Oakland and Washington I am talking about you guys. All of these teams are fighting for a top 5 pick with each other. With that said, a top-5 pick does not necessarily translate into success. The Browns have had some colossal busts in the first round since 1999, who can forget such talented players as Tim Couch, Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren and William Green.

#7 - Alex Mack (C): after trading down in the first-round of the 2009 NFL draft 22 times (not quite that many time but close), the Browns finally drafted Alex Mack. The Browns have been trying to solve their center issues since 2006 when they lured two-time pro bowler LeCharles Bentley away from the New Orleans Saints with a six-year, $36 million contract. In an attempt to upstage the aforementioned Tim Couch, Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren and William Green; LeCharles Bentley joins some rarefied air to go down as the biggest bust in Cleveland Browns history. Although Mack looks to be their center of the future they will always be haunted by the next two players selected after Mack in the 2009 NFL Draft Percy Harvin (by the Minnesota Vikings) and Michael Oher (by the Baltimore Ravens). Mack will be an adequate center but Harvin and Oher have a chance to be "special" players.

#6 - Kamerion Wimbley (LOLB): is the prototypical outside rushing linebacker in the 3-4. Before the trading deadline I thought the Packers should have tried to trade for Wimbley since the Browns are giving away first round picks (remember Braylon Edwards and Kellan Winslow). Wimbley has enough speed and size to rush the passer add drop into coverage. If the Packers plan to keep Kampman at outside linebacker they might want to look at how Wimbley plays the position.

#5 - Shaun Rogers (NT): is getting up there in age but at 30, Rogers still anchors the middle of the Browns 3-4 defense. The success of a player like Rogers is not based solely on the stats that he puts up, it is also based on the opportunities he creates for his teammates. Rogers still commands a double team which creates opportunities for Browns linebackers.

#4 - Eric Steinbach (LG): left southern Ohio for northern Ohio in 2007 when he agreed to a seven-year, $49.5 million contract ($17 million guaranteed) to join the Browns. Steinbach has been the anti-Bentley and makes up half of one the best left sides of an offensive line in the NFL.

3 - Eric Wright (CB): no I am not talking about the deceased Eazy-E (Eric Lynn Wright), I am talking about Eric Andrew Wright. The old saying goes, two out of three ain't bad. The Browns drafted Wright in the second round of the 2007, the same draft they got stud left tackle Joe Thomas and back-up quarterback Brady Quinn. The background on Wright would have ended there but Wright rolled his car at 2:10 a.m. Friday morning and hurt his shoulder (source: here). Let me get this straight, he was out at 2:10 a.m. a few days before a game? It is good to see that Wright was back at practice after the crash.

#2 - Joe Thomas (LT): possibly one of the best young left tackles in the NFL, absent injury, the Browns have an anchor on the left side of their line for the next decade. Thomas is one of the classier plays in the NFL too. On draft day instead of getting caught up in all of the hype that ESPN creates for the NFL Draft, Thomas went fishing with his dad in Port Washington, WI (on a boat that I caught a 20 pound king salmon I might add).

1 - Joshua Cribbs (Everything): he is their punt returner, kick returner, wide receiver and wildcat specialist. About the only thing that Cribbs does do for the Browns is play defense. Cribbs is a former four-year starting quarterback at Kent State but but does not have that accurate of a throw as evidenced last week when he was picked off by Pittsburgh on a badly thrown ball. Cribbs is a threat to return any kickoff or punt for a touchdown, similar to Dante Hall and Devin Hester in years past. With good reason the Packers have undoubtedly spent most of their film time this week on Cribbs.

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