2007: What Went Right, What Went Wrong

The Browns most successful season since returning may be looked on as the turnaround year several years hence. Or, knowing how the NFL works, it might be a blip. Here's Scout.com's take on what went right and wrong for the Browns this year...

The Browns surprised fans this season, teased them, but in the end let them down. All they had to do was beat the Bengals in Cincinnati on Dec. 23 to clinch a playoff spot, but they failed. Derek Anderson threw four interceptions and the Browns lost, 19-14. They beat the 49ers in the final game of the regular season to finish 10-6 -- their highest victory total in 13 years.

When the disappointment of missing the playoffs fades, fans and players will look back on 2007 as a season of great accomplishment. Almost anyone who has lived through the tribulation of 4-12 in 2004, 6-10 in 2005 and 4-12 in 2006 would have been ecstatic with 8-8. The Browns were two games better than that.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: The season turned on Sept. 16, when Anderson threw five touchdown passes to carry the Browns past the Bengals, 51-45. Five days earlier, opening day starter Charlie Frye was traded to Seattle. Rookie Brady Quinn was deemed not ready to start, so the job went to Anderson. He finished with 29 touchdown passes, one shy of the team record set by Brian Sipe in 1980. He will be an unrestricted free agent. The Browns are considering tendering him a contract that would fetch a first- and a third-round draft pick. Their first preference is to retain him.

Rookie left tackle Joe Thomas was everything the Browns hoped he would be. Jamal Lewis, with 1,304 yards rushing and nine rushing touchdowns, proved his tank isn't empty. Braylon Edwards set a franchise record for touchdown catches (16) and Kellen Winslow Jr. proved his talk of being the best tight end in the league is not just hot air.

Winslow was the face of the Browns this season. He always dressed in full uniform for practice. He fought for every blade of grass when an opponent tried tackling him.

The Browns were guilty of starting slowly in five road games. They trailed Oakland 16-0, the Patriots 20-0, the Rams 14-0, the Cardinals 14-0 and the Bengals 19-0. Defensive lapses and interceptions thrown by Anderson were the causes of the slow starts. The Browns rallied to beat the Rams, but lost the other four.

Stopping the run was a problem all season, and not all the problems could be measured statistically. There were occasions when a stop was made when needed, but there were other times when opponents were able to control the clock on long fourth-quarter marches.

Improving the run defense will not be a quick fix. As of now the Browns don't have a first-round draft choice (it was traded to Dallas so the Browns could draft Brady Quinn) and there are no Brian Urlachers in free agency.

Injuries decimated an aging defensive line. Second-year linebacker Kamerion Wimbley was a major disappointment. He had 11 sacks as a rookie but only five this season. He vows to have renewed dedication next year.

Pass defense was a problem in the first half of the season, but it improved as safeties Sean Jones and Brodney Pool got more playing time together. Opposing receivers did not get behind the pass defense as readily as they did in September and October.


--QB Derek Anderson left the game against the 49ers with an injury to the pinky finger on his right hand in the second quarter. X-rays were negative and he returned for the second half.

--QB Brady Quinn played for the first time this season while Anderson's injury was being tended to. Quinn completed three of eight passes for 45 yards and engineered a drive that ended in a field goal.

--RS Joshua Cribbs returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown and made four tackles on special teams.

--K Phil Dawson kicked two field goals and two extra points, giving him 120 points for the season. The only player in Browns history to score more in one season was Jim Brown. Brown scored 21 touchdowns, 126 points, in 1965.

--WR Braylon Edwards caught his 16th touchdown pass of the season. Last year the Browns scored 15 passing touchdowns as a team.

The OBR Top Stories