Hanford: Time For Excitement

Heading into the 2007 season, Hanford Dixon is excited about the possibilities for the Browns. Relying on his experience in and around the game, the Top Dawg lays his thoughts out on the team and season.

Hey dawgs . . . I can't wait for the beginning of the season this Sunday against the Steelers. I can't tell you how excited I am about the Browns this season.

I feel better about this club than I've felt in a long, long time. I really think this team we have put together is going to do something. I like the offense. I especially like the creativity that's going on with the offense. I like Braylon Edwards coming back. I think he's on a mission. I like Kellen Winslow and the addition of Jamal Lewis at running back.

I particularly like the offensive line even though we've had some injuries and lost some guys. I think the line is going to be much, much better than it's been in years. I've been saying time and time again that's where the game of football is controlled and played, on the offensive and defensive lines of scrimmage.

The only concern I have right now on offense is the quarterback position. But I'm really not that worried about it because our quarterbacks now have a great supporting cast. I think those guys are going to make it much, much easier on whoever the quarterback is.

Defensively, we've always played well and the only problem we've had is stopping the run. Again, that is a concern. But at the same time, the defense has always given us a chance to win. They've kept us in the games. I look for them to continue that trend this season.

Of course, the game is played in three phases and I can't ignore the special teams. Our special teams are playing extremely well. We have a terrific punter in Dave Zastudil and a great punt returner and kick returner in Joshua Cribbs. All we have to do now is get Phil Dawson going. I think he's going to be fine.

I'm very excited about this football team. I'm glad to get all these preseason games out of the way. Now, we can actually judge our team.

As for the coaching staff, yeah, they've had a rocky couple of years. But I think Romeo Crennel can get it done. I know Romeo and I think he knows what he's doing. When you give him some people, some players – the coach is only as good as his players – I have all the confidence in him that he can get this team to winning. I think he's going to be fine.

We're going to find out real quick what this team is all about in the first four games against Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Oakland and Baltimore. We're going to know real fast what kind of team we have.

The players have to understand that they have to come out of the gate fast because we have three teams in there that are in the same division as us. If you're going to have any chance of making it to the playoffs, you have to beat the teams in your division. That should be the players' focus.

OK, it's time to predict how our guys are going to do. Most of you know I'm an optimist. My glass is always half full. I think this team is going to finish at least 8-8. That's right, the Browns are going to play at least .500 football.

Why? I think there are lot more playmakers on this team. Guys like Braylon and Kellen and Jamal. We've got a new offensive coordinator in Rob Chudzinski who I think is going to open up this offense. A good offense will take pressure off the defense.

It wouldn't surprise me if we win nine games, but I would settle for eight. I would be real, real happy if this team won eight games. I really believe that will happen.

So let's get it started on the right foot Sunday against the Steelers, dawgs.

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