Browns-Vikings: By the Numbers

Steve King looks at the little-known facts behind Sunday's game...

The regular-season opener between the Browns-Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium is a rarity in that the teams haven't played each other much over the years.

Nonetheless, there are a number of ties between the clubs and the respective regions and states they represent. That's especially true with the Vikings.

For Minnesota:

*Vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman is from Massillon and is the brother of former Browns and Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman.

*Head coach Brad Childress was interviewed for the Browns head coaching job in 2005 when he was still offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles. Browns officials were reportedly stunned at how unimpressed they were with him in that interview. They came in expected to be wowed, and it was just the opposite.

*Defensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, while a player at Northern Arizona, went on a two-year Mormon mission to Cleveland in 1990 and '91.

*Assistant offensive line coach Jim Hueber started his coaching career at the University of Cincinnati in 1974.

*Assistant defensive backs coach Derek Mason coached at Ohio University in 2005 and '06.

*Offensive line coach Pat Morris was born in Cleveland.

*Linebackers coach Fred Pagac was a tight end at Ohio State from 1970-73 and was an assistant coach for the Buckeyes from 1978-2000. His son, Fred Jr., was a linebacker at Ohio State and is now a graduate assistant there.

*Quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers coached on Woody Hayes' last two Ohio State teams in 1977 and '78. His daughter, Megan, is the manager of football administration for the Browns.

*Defensive backs coach Joe Woods began his coaching career at Muskingum College in 1992 and was at Kent State in '97.

*Assistant video director Steve Hicks is from Marion, graduated from Ohio State and worked in video operations at the school from 1994-2001.

*Regional scout Paul Roell attended Ohio State and Ohio Northern.

*Area scout Mike Sholiton hails from Cleveland.

*Personnel consultant Paul Wiggin starred for the Browns as a defensive end from 1957-67 and is a member of the Cleveland Browns Legends.

*Director of marketing and business development Dannon Hulskotter worked for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the former Gund Arena from 1994 to '99.

*Director of corporate sales Mike Slates graduated from Bowling Green State University and worked for both the Cavaliers and Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew.

*Running back Chester Taylor played at the University of Toledo.

*Cornerback Antoine Winfield played at Akron Garfield High School and Ohio State.

And for the Browns:

*Defensive end C.J. Mosley played for the Vikings in 2005 after being a sixth-round draft choice of the team that year.

*Tight end Steve Heiden is from Rushford.

*Wide receivers coach George McDonald coached wide receivers at the University of Minnesota in 2007 and '08.

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A LONG TIME: The Browns are 1-10 in their last 11 openers, including 1-9 in the expansion era, and have lost four straight, their only victory coming in 2004 when they topped Jamal Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens 20-3.

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A LONG TIME II: Mangini will try to become the first Browns head coach to win his opening game since Bud Carson's team routed the Pittsburgh Steelers 51-0 in 1989. Since then, Bill Belichick (26-14 to the Dallas Cowboys in 1991), Chris Palmer (43-0 to the Steelers in 1999), Butch Davis (9-6 to the Seattle Seahawks in 2001) and Romeo Crennel (27-13 to the Cincinnati Bengals in 2005) have all lost their first contests.

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A GOOD OMEN: If the Browns defeat the Vikings, then it could be a sign that this will be a good year for the club. In Mangini's first three openers as an NFL head coach, all with the New York Jets, he was 2-1, beating the Tennessee Titans 23-16 in 2006 and the Miami Dolphins 20-14 last year, while losing to Belichick's New England Patriots 38-14 in 2007. When Mangini's Jets won their opener, they did well during that year, going 10-6 and making the playoffs in 2006 and finishing 9-7 and just missing the postseason last year. And when they lost the opener, they struggled, going 4-12 in 2007.

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FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH (PROBABLY NOTHING): Preseason games don't mean a whole lot in the big picture. And preseason game statistics mean even less. Nonetheless, here's how the Browns were ranked in the 32-team NFL in various categories in this year's preseason: tied for 18th in average points scored per game (18.3), 26th in total offensive yards (283.3), 18th in rushing yards (107.8), 26th in passing yards (175.5), tied for 10th in points allowed (17.5), 25th in total  yards allowed (343.5), 24th in rushing yards allowed (128.5), 21st in passing yards allowed (214.8) and tied for eighth in turnover ratio (plus-2).

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FEELING OF REJECTION: Browns nose tackle Shaun Rogers leads the NFL in blocked field goals from 2004-08 with 8.

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STREAKY: Wide receiver Braylon Edwards has caught at least one pass in the last 58 games. That's every one he's played in as a member of the Browns.

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IN RANGE: Kicker Phil Dawson needs just five field goals to pass Don Cockroft (216) and take over second place on the Browns all-time list behind Lou Groza (234). He has 212.

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THE NUMBERS GAME: With the release of tight end Aaron Walker, Furrey switched his jersey number from 88 to 87, and backup inside linebacker Blake Costanzo went from 44 to 54. Of the four players signed on Sunday, running back Credric Peerman will wear No. 38, offensive tackle Phil Trautwein 74, safety DeAngelo Smith 33 and cornerback Marquis Floyd 29.

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AND FINALLY…: The Browns had seven sacks in four preseason games this year. In the 2008 regular season, they had a franchise-low 17 sacks in 16 contests. Does this mean that the long-absent pass rush is beginning to make itself visible again? We'll see beginning on Sunday.


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