Adkins: Onto the Patriots

Lane looks at the incredible challenge the Browns face on Sunday afternoon in New England

Quarterback Derek Anderson has had some great moments during the 2007 season, as well as the bad. But when he straps on the helmet this Sunday, he will be dealing with what is possibly the best team in the league.

The New England Patriots have not been simply just beating the opposition, they have been annihilating them at the rate of a 35-14 average score. This year's Patriots may be the best team head coach Bill Belichick has fielded, even considering the three Super Bowl winning teams the ex-Browns coach has led while in New England.

How the Patriots win games is simple. Getting players to buy into the philosophy is first and foremost Belichick's greatest attribute. In an age when individual statistics mean almost as much as winning, the Belichick teams continue to play aggressive, disciplined defense, while becoming an offensive threat due to the Patriots dynamic overhaul of the skill positions, and abilities of quarterback Tom Brady.

A force to be reckoned with in prior years, Brady now has the likes of receivers Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, and Wes Welker at his disposal. A good offense in the 2006 season has quickly become as explosive a unit as any in the game today. With an offensive line which plays well as a unit, New England mixes up the run and pass extremely well. Defensing this team would be a tough chore for the league's best units, much less the struggling Cleveland Browns defense.

While standout players are slotted into the Patriots roster, it is the team philosophy which makes New England a consistent winner. What makes the New England defense different from the Browns is the discipline on the field and the commitment the New England organization has made in stopping the run as the primary objective.

New England is a physical defensive team, and their modus operandi is to hammer the opposition endlessly. The league office has received numerous complaints regarding the physical style of play or manhandling the linebackers and defensive backs in New England are accustomed to delivering. These Patriots tackle the ball carrier, and they will lay a lick on a receiver coming over the middle. The Patriots are not prone to letting a receiver catch a pass downfield without getting a timely shot in.

It's old school football. There is not a better coached team in the league.

Looking at the New England defense, one can see what Browns head coach Romeo Crennel would like to be working with in Cleveland. The defense of the New England Patriots displays what Crennel envisions for the Browns, but is simply unable to do because the Browns have not secured and developed the defensive talent.

As the Browns have been forced to rely on the likes of the aging Ted Washington (a former Patriot many moons ago), Orpheus Roye, and Ethan Kelley, New England settles in with the likes of Richard Seymour (injured), Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, and Jarvis Green. New England has built the defensive line through the draft. This is something the Browns are sure to investigate following the season, as Washington and Roye are on their last legs.

The defensive line of the Patriots also play with a desire to beat an opposing offense down. They are very disciplined and rarely makes a glaring mistake. The contrary is the norm in Cleveland, as the Browns are often beaten at the line of scrimmage and plays of impact are minimal for the team's defensive line.

The Browns are not a poorly coached team. Head coach Romeo Crennel hasn't forgotten how to coach defense, he just does not have the horses to ride, as does Belichick in New England, nor has he been on the job long enough to transform the roster to his liking. Crennel understands the importance of stopping the run, and he also likes a physical, disciplined team.

Only time will tell if Crennel is the coach many had hoped when he was named to the post by the Cleveland Browns prior to the 2005 season, but without the horses to ride, we may never know.

Romeo Crennel is a very good coach and will do good things in Cleveland once he gets the team together he wants," Bill Belichick said upon Crennel's hiring in Cleveland.

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