The Cleveland Browns had a season for the ages in 2007. Just when everyone thought Romeo Crennel was on his way out the door in Cleveland, he turned the underdog Browns into legitimate playoff contenders.
When the Browns had the third pick in last year’s draft, everyone thought they should have drafted Brady Quinn. Turns out everyone was wrong for two reasons. The first reason being that they could get Quinn in the last third of the draft, which they did. The second reason was that Quinn might not be the best quarterback talent on the Browns team now, or at any point down the road.
Derek Anderson’s sudden rise to quarterbacking excellence was a shock to everyone. He led the Browns to a 10-6 record (10-5 on his resume), and he also was a big part of their eighth ranked offense that scored 25.1 points per game in 2007.
However, despite the offensive success, the Browns were still at home for the playoffs. They can blame that on their lackluster defense that gave up 23.9 points per game, and was ranked worse than teams like the Cincinnati Bengals, San Francisco 49ers, and Miami Dolphins.
Where do they turn to for help in the off-season?
Well, the can start with addressing their defensive philosophy. And I must say that they are already off to a bad start on that. Hiring a defensive coordinator from Ohio State was probably not the best of moves. They are trying to revamp an NFL defense with college experience, and while Mel Tucker may be a brilliant guy, bringing in someone with experience running an NFL defense would have been a much smarter move. Besides, it’s not as if we’re talking about a college head coach here, or even the coordinator of a defense that staggeringly dominant against equivalent competition. For the last two years, the Buckeyes have been blasted by BCS Conference schools outside of the Big Ten. So I’m not so sure that Mel Tucker exactly even had the winning formula in the college ranks, never mind the NFL.
As far as personnel goes, they need to revamp that entire secondary. They haven’t addressed that issue with a high draft pick in sometime, and this is probably the year they need to do it. Drafting a big board cornerback would be the way to go for the Browns in the 2008 NFL Draft. However, they don’t currently have a draft pick in the first round. Therefore, they will have to settle for whoever slips into the mid-second round. Possible options include Aqib Talib, the cornerback from Kansas. And if he doesn’t fall that far, perhaps Reggie Smith is an option as a safety in the 2nd round.
Their front seven is pretty set; however, they could upgrade at their nose tackle position. Albert Haynesworth will be an unrestricted free agent this off-season, as will Corey Williams from Green Bay. Either one of them could really help a Browns defensive line that struggled to stop the run, and perhaps one of them could be the difference between them going 10-6 and going 11-5 or 12-4 in 2008.