Football season is finally here. It couldn’t have come too soon since, as it’s been well documented here at J Beanie, the summer has sucked as for as entertaining sports go.
The Cleveland Browns open training camp today. In past years this was a great day simply because it mark the start of football season. It also marked the start of a Browns season where everyone was hopeful this would be the year the team turns it around yet realistically knowing it probably was more of the same.
That all changed last year. Last was the season they did turn things around. Now, at the start of training camp 2008, there is a real sense of optimism and excitement. Not that fake stuff that has followed Brownies around since the early 90s. This year is there a real, genuine possibility of it being a special season. (Of course, Cleveland teams have a way to let their fans down when it comes to “should-be promising seasons” i.e. the 2008 Cleveland Indians.)
This training camp will be more about getting prepared more than who should play. The starters all but set, there will be no coin flip to see who should start at quarterback and the only roster questions are about special teamers. A full training camp for the offense, and more importantly, the defense to come together and learn the systems can only make this team better.
The biggest questions on the team is on the defense. Can Brandon McDonald and Eric Wright handle the cornerback positions? What about Sean Jones at safety? Can he step up and be a leader? Will the linebackers be better? Will they get more than 28 (or however many) sacks they did a year ago?
McDonald will be fine at corner. Wright played really well as a rookie and McDonald did too when he had to fill in for a few games. No reason why he can’t play solid for 16 games.
Sean Jones has all the talent to be one of the best safeties in the league. They say last year he had trouble making the defensive calls. Supposedly, new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker simplified the defense and will make Jones’s job easier. Letting Jones simply play instead of thinking will make him a better player.
The linebackers will be better because the defensive line is better. Orpheus Roye, Ethen Kelly, Ted Washington; gone. When the offensive line doesn’t have to worry about the front three, of course the linebackers job will be tougher. With Shaun Rogers and Smith, Robaire Smith and Corey Williams, I think it’s safe to say that’s an upgrade. They’ll do their job of eating up offensive linemen and allowing the linebackers to make the plays. I think Andra Davis will see his role become less significant. Leon Williams and then eventually Beau Bell will take over. On the outside, Antwan Peek will have much better year. He showed flashes of it last year but injuries slowed him down. Now healthy, he should be a force. With Peek on one side and the Smith’s or Williams on the outside of the line, it will open things up for Kamerion Wimbley to have a much better season. I think it’s safe to say he’ll have more than the five sacks he had in 2007.
Offensively, we know they can score. I think Anderson will be fine. He’ll have a similar year to last year with hopefully less interceptions. There will be pressure on him since Brady Quinn is ready to play and the team is ready to win. I think he’ll handle it just fine. He’s got Braylon and Winslow and a great offensive line. He’s got Jamal who will still be solid and Josh Cribbs will see an expanded role. (How about use him as third down back and run screen plays for him?) Anderson supposedly worked on his short passes and touch in the offseason. I don’t think Anderson will get bothered by the pressure if for no other reason than he is too stupid to know the difference.
It’s looking like a great year. There is as much excitement around the opening of training camp as there has ever been. The difference this year, that excitement won’t end once the regular season starts.