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Optimism vs. Skepticism; Cleveland Browns 2012 Season Preview

Blast away!

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QB

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The Pirate is clearly younger

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Optimist

With Brandon Weeden under center for the Oklahoma State University, he lead the Cowboys to their first 11 win season in school history. He broke school records in attempts, completions, yardage and touchdowns. He also lead his team to victory over universally adorned Andrew Luck in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl throwing for almost 400 yards and 4 TD's. Considered a mature and polished prospect, it's speculated he could have been a higher pick if a few years younger. Colt's chance as a starter may be gone by the wayside, but he could be a worthy back-up. And Wallace performed admirably as a back-up.

Pessimist

Before the end of the year Weeden will be 29 years old. Aside from his AARP membership, there is the possibility he was severely over drafted. NFP had him ranked as the 76th best prospect in the draft. 44th for CBS Sports. With the teams lined up between the 21st and 5th pick of the second round, there is a great chance Weeden would have been available with the third pick as the other teams weren't QB concerned.

Aside from his draft position, Weeden has been known to be sporatic at times, trust his arm strength too much, unable to sense pocket breakdown and may have been bailed out by his WR's a little too much at OSU. Some people see him as a glorified Derek Anderson.

TLP's Assessment: Depends. I can't see anyone having success with this WR group

RB

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Someone tell Trent despite popular belief, cold weather doesn't start in Cleveland until November...

Optimist

Trent Richardson is considered to be the best RB prospect since Adrian Peterson decided to grace the NFL with his presence in 2007. Hardesty once again has a chance to prove his 2nd round worthiness after 2 seasons of injuries or mediocrity. Brandon Jackson is what you'd expect from a third down back, and there is always OBGYN. The running game should significantly help the development of Weeden.

Pessimist

When you think of "cookie cutter", the two things you'd imagine would probably be a wire the shape of Santa, and Trent Richardson. He doesn't have any attributes that stand out. He's not exceptionally fast like CJ Spiller. he's not exceptionally huge like Peyton Hillis. He's not agile like Chris Johnson. He's doesn't have the balance of AP. His college career consisted of him running through really large holes of the Alabama OL. Hardesty is a splinter away from being cut, and Jackson is all but useless.

TLP assessment: Optimistic. Richardson is going to be a good RB, but is he worth the third overall? I don't see his performance justifying what it took to draft him.

WR

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"Nooo, bring your hands together when the ball is BETWEEN them. Here let me show you."

Optimist

Greg Little was second in the league amongst rookies in catches, only behind AJ Green and a league leader in broken tackles. Mike Holmgren feels MoMass is destined for a break-out year. Other than that, Heckert has been stocking the team with speedy WRs. They return Watson, Smith, Moore and Cameron.

Pessimist

Little was second in catches among rookies only because there were only 3 rookie WRs who started last year. Despite all those catches he had only 700 yards, which means he caught a bunch of dump-offs was a league leader in dropped passes and had one of the lowest catch percentage among starters. He was useless past the 15 yard line, as exemplified by his 11 yard average and simply by watching him play. MoMass has horrible football skills and plays soft. Benjamin, Reed and Saffold may be fast, but that doesn't mean they're good football players. The TE's were largely ineffective last year, compared to the previous year.

TLP Assessment: Pessimistic. These guys suck, all that really needs to be said.

OL

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Hammer time

Optimist

Joe Thomas is Joe Thomas. Alex Mack is Alex Mack. Pashos is gone but we drafted Schwartz to take his place, a guy who many analyst hold in high regard. Lauvao played a lot better down the stretch than he did early in the year, and Pinkston is coming upon his second year and is expected to contribute.

Pessimist

Joe Thomas was masterful at pass blocking as usual, but had a down year for run blocking. Pashos was great at pass protection(despite popular believe), but was released. So Schwartz has big shoes to fill, which his limited skill set may not be ready for. Pinkston sucked, and the jury is out on Lauvao. Mack isn't exactly setting the world on fire as he should for a 1st round center.

TLP Assessment: Pessimistic. I don't see a lot here to be excited about. I don't know if the run blocking will be better than last year, and there are 3 questionable spots out of 5 on the line. If Schwartz live up to his position, and either Pinkston or Lauvau doesn't suck, this will be a good unit.

DL

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But it's calling me....

Optimist

Cleveland drafted their two DTs in the later rounds, but Wynn was expected to be a first rounder at the beginning of the season. They return their two mountainous DTs, even though Taylor will miss significant time with injury. Jabal Sheard had a decent rookie season, leading the team in sacks. The FO also picked up Frostee Rucker, who excels in run support.

Pessimist

Phil Taylor's absence may be a good thing, considering how much he sucked last year. Useless in run support and useless in pass rushing. It gives the rookies the opportunity to prove themselves in his absence. In fact, the entire line during entire games had significant trouble rushing the passer, giving the opposing QBs what seemed like hours to find his receivers. The DTs allowed themselves to be pushed around last year, the team was at the bottom of the league in run defense and sacks.

TLP Assessment: Pessimistic. It's hard to put faith into this group with so little production last season.

LB

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"NURSE!!!! Oh wait nevermind, force of habit. *hehe*"

Optimist

Praise Jesus, DQ played 16 games! Not only that, he once against was a league leader in tackles and improved upon his sack total. Umm...other than that everyone...is healthy?

Pessimist

Aside from DQ everyone else was pretty crappy. Gocong got assaulted week in and week out, aside from a glorious goal line stance one week. He, Maiava and Fuijita were nowhere to be found against the run, attributing to the second worst run defense in the league. No young prospects or potential to speak of out of the group.

TLP Assessment: Pessimist. This is just not a very effective unit.

DB

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"Only WRs are supposed to catch these right?"

Optimist

The unit as a whole were 2nd in the league against the pass which is phenomenal. It's even better considering the little help they got from the DL. And yet they still contributed against the run. Ward will be coming back after missing 8 games last season.

Pessimist

Curtis Painter, Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne, Charlie Whitehurst, John Skelton, Sam Bradford, Joe Flacco, Kyle Boller, AJ Dalton's first game, Ben Rapistburgher on one leg twice. This is the "competition" that attributed towards the Browns inflated pass defense numbers. The only good QBs they went up against were Hasselbeck and Schaub and a healthy Ben, and they didn't fair as well.

TLP Assessment: Optimistic. You have to be able to beat the crappy QB's in order to beat the good ones. It's definitely a step up from getting ran over by backups.

Summary:

The browns have improved by acquiring a formidable QB, run support and a couple of pieces to work with. They neglected the WR position and pass rushing. The staff has allowed the Browns to be alive late in most of their games the past 2 years, but I don't know if they have the pieces to seal the deal yet. Especially with the other teams getting better.

4-12

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