The more we learn about last year, the more amazing it is the Browns won even four games.
Andra Davis, the inside linebacker and a team leader on defense, says he likes Trent Dilfer because Dilfer has made it a point to get to know everybody on the team, whether the player is on offense or defense.
The quarterback from last year, Jeff Garcia, never went out of his way to get to close to anybody on the team. The defense might as well have been on the other side of the Berlin Wall.
Then Gary Baxter, the new cornerback, gave a view of what the Browns were like from the perspective of the enemy - as a Baltimore Raven. Baxter played four seasons for the Ravens before signing with the Browns in free agency in the offseason. He has spent the last two months in the Browns offseason program.
"I asked guys a lot of questions about last year and they said nobody was accountable," Baxter said. "Now you look around and have guys like me and Andra Davis who is stepping up and being a true leader at middle linebacker. He's holding everybody accountable. In passing camp we form that chemistry we need to win games on Sundays."
The Browns beat Baltimore three of four times during Baxter's first two years as a Raven. The Ravens went 4-0 against their rivals over the last two years.
"There were two teams that always scared me - the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals," Baxter said. "We knew their guys were very talented. We knew if they ever decided to put it together we'd be in for a long day.
"One thing I notice now is guys are committed to using our talent to make plays and come out with Ws. I don't think it was here before. When we'd play against the Browns, their offense was very simple. They came out sloppy. The offense now is very different. The receivers are running routes harder and crisper. On defense everybody is running to the ball and making a gang tackle."
Talk of new attitudes is cheap, of course. It's easy to have a good attitude in May when everybody is in shorts and the coach is new. It's like stepping outside after a cleansing spring rain.
Let's see what happens when the humidity, so to speak, builds again and the weaknesses of the Browns are exposed. Will that new attitude still be there? We hope so.
Davis talked about commitment and said he and teammates are going the extra mile to take home tape or DVDs of New England Patriot games to learn their specific roles.
Watching the tapes, players see Troy Brown, a converted receiver, playing defensive back. They see cornerback Earthwind Moreland, who couldn't even make it with the Browns, helping the Patriots win a Super Bowl.
The message: If they can do it, why not us? Not a Super Bowl this year, of course, but Crennel wants his players to know improvement from 4-12 is expected, not just something to wish for.
"Looking at the New England Patriots last year, they didn't have a lot of big-name guys but they were making plays," Baxter said. "I think that's the approach we need to take on defense. A lot of guys might not look good on paper, but if you put your commitment and hard work together and go out and do what you're supposed to do, I think those names start appearing pretty big on paper."
Adding Peter Boulware would give the Browns instant name recognition on defense. The question that has to be answered is how much gas does the 30-year-old Boulware have left in his tank? If he is that good, wouldn't he have signed somewhere by now, more than two weeks after being released by the Ravens?
"Is he strictly just a rusher, because of his situation, or can he be a three-down player again?'' General Manager Phil Savage said. ``That's a part of the equation that we don't know right now.''
Coach Romeo Crennel on Tuesday expressed interest in Ty Law, the former New England cornerback trying to come back from a foot injury. Boulware is coming off a knee injury that forced him to miss the last 17 games.
Boulware and Law would make the Browns better. Their presence would retard the growth of young linebackers and defensive backs. It's a consideration, but this is not investment banking. If Boulware and Law can help the Browns win now, the decision to go after them will pay dividends by helping to turn the Browns into a winning team.