Browns-Bears: Frankly Speaking

Frank Derry speaks frankly about the Cleveland sports scene. And, frankly, he didn't like what he saw in the Browns 20-7 loss to Chicago. Here are the post-game thoughts of the veteran Indians and Browns writer...

The starters were supposed to play for a series or two. In reality, most of the first-teamers were on the field, but it's a stretch to say they "played" in the preseason finale against Chicago.

The Bears moved the ball with ease on their first drive after the special teams had given them good field position with a long punt return.

And had Rex Grossman thrown the ball a little deeper on the Bears' second play of their second series, Chicago would have enjoyed a 14-0 lead before the clock reach single digits.

As it was, it took the Bears less than 10 minutes of game time to go up 10-0 en route to a 20-7 victory.

In reality, the run defense was respectable, the pass defense deplorable.

The Browns' offense?

Well, you would be hard-pressed to think of a worse showing short of quarterback Charlie Frye suffering a serious injury. He was planted by the Bear' defense a split second after every pass attempt and was lucky to be pulled before any serious damage could be done to his all-important body.

The fact it was Derek Anderson, instead of Ken Dorsey, who was sent out to replace Frye might indicate he is the favorite to be handed the backup role.

Anderson outplayed Dorsey during the preseason, although that's probably more a statement of how badly Dorsey played as opposed to anything Anderson did.

The list of negatives against Dorsey is a long one, making you wonder why the Browns' coaching staff and scouts ever considered him a viable No. 2 quarterback.

In no particular order, Dorsey's shortcomings include:

  • Winding up before he throws
  • Delivering the ball late
  • An absence of foot speed
  • Inconsistency
  • A lack of arm strength

Other than that, Dorsey has what it takes to be an NFL quarterback.

Anderson, meanwhile, has never played in an NFL, so in that category Dorsey has the decided advantage, having started seven games and played in 22.

I'll be absolutely stunned if the Browns don't sign a veteran quarterback before Sept. 10. Right now, if Frye goes down, the Browns might as well forget about any chance of making the playoffs.

And if the showing Thursday night of the Browns' first team offensive line is any indication, this is one unit that is clearly not ready for the start of the regular season.

The offensive line and lack of quarterback depth are two major reasons why I think the Browns are headed for yet another last-place finish in what figures to be a very rugged AFC North Division.

Those two problem areas on offense pretty much offset the big-play ability of guys like Kellen Winslow, Jr., and Braylon Edwards. If Frye doesn't get time to throw deep, they will be spending a lot of frustrating moments open in opposing defensive backfields but rendered useless.

What does give me hope is the defense, despite the putrid performance in the opening minutes against the Bears.

The combination of veteran players, blue-chip prospects and an additional year of experience for some of the returnees should make for a very solid unit once cornerbacks Daylon McCutcheon and Gary Baxter are healthy.

I think linebackers Kamerion Wimbley and D'Qwell Jackson, selected in the first and second, respectively, have the potential to become Pro Bowl players in a couple of years. Wimbley's incredible quickness, combined with the fact he gets to learn on a daily basis from Willie McGinest, could create a lot of headache for opposing quarterbacks.

Jackson will likely see plenty of playing time while sharing one of the insider spots with Chaun Thompson.

The presence of huge Ted Washington in the middle of the defensive line can only mean good things for Andra Davis, who has the potential to be the Browns' first Pro Bowl player since Jamir Miller, the only Browns player invited to Hawaii since the team returned to action in 1999.

I wouldn't be surprised to see former second-round draft picks Sean Jones and Brodney Pool, who will share time at one safety spot to begin the year, eventually both become starters at the expense of Brian Russell, who could wind up as their backup.

The defense should be strong enough to give the Browns a shot at reaching the .500 mark this year. Anything more than eight wins would be a bonus.

I'm going to go way out on the limb and predict the defending World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, despite quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's motorcycle accident, will easily win the division title.

The Bengals will be keeping the scoreboard operator very busy, from both an offensive and defensive standpoint.

Carson Palmer is the real deal at quarterback and, providing he's healthy, should be able to help Bengal fans forget about all of the team's off-the-field problems.

Taking third will be the Baltimore Ravens who, despite the acquisition of quarterback Steve McNair, are still not close to being of the same caliber as either Pittsburgh or Cincinnati on offense.

Defensively, the Ravens should be able to hold their own, thanks in large part to All-World middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who is a one-man wrecking crew.

So here's the way I look at the division:

Pittsburgh  12-4







Of course, a serious injury to either Roethlisberger or Palmer could result in a much different look come Dec. 31.

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