Sometimes when you are looking for a mirage it can be hard to see, like when I first set about trying to see the Cleveland Browns playing great defense this upcoming year. But after wandering the desert for 40 days and 40 nights with my tattered copy of Catch-22, wondering whether my fears meant I was sane or insane, suddenly I saw it out on the horizon.
Actually, I soon realized the mirage was big and obvious like the sight of Shaun Rodgers walking past you at a banquet. I couldn't logically miss it. And what I am seeing, with the aforementioned Rodgers anchoring it, is a defense on the verge of coming together into a dominating unit. Yes, the sum shall be greater than the parts.
I've noticed that there are many nattering nabobs of negativism, as Spiro Agnew (of Baltimore!) pointed out so many years ago. But I, unlike them, tend to think in Obama-esque terms: Yes we can stop the run.
This is my Defensive off-season mirage:
Defensive Line: If you saw Shaun Rodgers play last year you know that at least one member of the Cleveland Browns is capable of playing ferocious defense. You probably also figured out that one is really not enough. So this year perhaps Corey Williams will play with two arms and Kenyon Coleman can provide some needed stability. I expect these three to be laying down the law as they sound like a law firm: Coleman, Rodgers & Williams.
Inside Linebackers: D'Qwell Jackson had about 1 million tackles last year while playing essentially linebacker by himself. With a little help, he could be even better. With experienced Eric Barton to play off of, and an improved defensive line, Jackson might be able to make more of those tackles in the backfield.
Outside Linebackers: Thankfully Willie McGinest has taken his oxygen tank and walker and gone home. Instead of old Patriots, we get old Jet David Bowens who is at least not 50 yet. Now maybe Rob Ryan can revive Kamerion Wimbley's career while developing Alex Hall and David Veikune. Look for this group to surprise big time and maybe even Wimbley finds his way back to the Pro Bowl.
Cornerbacks: There is a young driver in NASCAR, Joey Logano, whose nickname is "sliced bread." Last year, Brandon McDonald could have been nicknamed "burnt toast" but a lot of that may have been because opposing quarterbacks usually had time to make a sandwich in the pocket. Hopefully, the defensive line and added competition will lead to his and the secondary's improvement. Adding bodies, even Hank Poteat, has to help. No?
Safeties: Abram Elam will be solid – another part added that makes the sum greater. However even a mirage can get a technical glitch and this one seems to go by the name of Brodney Pool, who I hope will get better by virtue of his improved surroundings.
I can clearly see now that the defense will be much improved and we probably won't have to witness any other teams scoring touchdowns. I don't even think they'll give up a first down – at least not for a couple of months.
(Two months ago, Brian also foresaw an unstoppable offensive juggernaut)
Brian Tarcy writes "The Dreamer" column for the Orange & Brown Magazine. He is the creator of Whatzgonnahappen.com and Freecheezeburgerz.com, and the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To NASCAR as well as several other books.