||AFC CENTRAL NEWS
CLEVELAND BROWNS TEAM PREVIEW
By Rachael Brandon, NFL.com
Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael. Chris Palmer oversaw the offense
last season, so Carmichael is the new Browns' first-ever offensive
coordinator. But Palmer and Carmichael share a history, having worked
together with the Jacksonville Jaguars for two seasons (1997-98).
Carmichael was the Jaguars' wide receivers coach last year.
Having someone with experience coaching wideouts could be beneficial for
the Browns, who have a young but talented receiving corps. Last year the
Jaguars were fourth in the AFC in passing. The Jaguars' Jimmy Smith and
Keenan McCardell combined for six 1,000-yard receiving seasons in
Carmichael's five years as receivers coach.
NFL INSIDER POWER RATINGS
Ratings based on analysis of 1999 team and individual statistics,
offseason personnel moves and feedback from respected experts (from NFL
Insider's Season Preview issue) Rushing offense: 6.8 Passing offense: 6.9
Rushing defense: 6.8 Passing defense: 9.4 Special teams: 7.0 Coaching: 7.2
Intangibles: 7.5 TOTAL: 51.6 Scale of 1-10; Perfect score=70
ON THE COMEBACK TRAIL...
Orlando Brown is still recovering from the eye injury he suffered last
season when a referee inadvertently threw a weighted penalty flag at him.
Whether or not he plays this season is in doubt, but he has resumed
working out any way he can, usually riding a stationary bike while the
Brown has been placed on the physically unable to perform list, and the
Browns have made Steve Zahursky the starter in his absence. Cleveland
added another Brown, James, as insurance at tackle.
They haven't garnered as much attention as No. 1 pick Courtney Brown or
free-agent signee Errict Rhett, but offensive tackles Everett Lindsay and
Roman Oben could make the biggest impact this season.
Offensive tackle Roger Chanoine spent all but one week on the practice
squad last season, but with Orlando Brown out for the forseeable future,
Chanoine has an important role as the backup to Zahursky at right tackle
and Oben at left tackle.
David Patten signed with the New York Giants in 1997 after playing Arena
Football in 1996. Before that, he worked in landscaping, as an electrician
and in a coffee bean factory. He had 226 yard receiving in 1997, but only
234 yards in the next two seasons combined. Now he's with the Browns,
listed as No. 2 on the depth chart behind Kevin Johnson. In the preseason
opener against Philadelphia, Patten hauled in five passes for 95 yards.
BROWNS AT A GLANCE
Head coach: Chris Palmer (second year with Cleveland) 1999 record: 2-14
(6th in AFC Central) 1999 rankings: Offense - 31st overall (235
yards/game), 31st rushing run (71.9), 29th pass (163.3) Defense - 31st
overall (377.9 yards/game), 31st run (171) 11th pass (206.9)
KEY COMINGS DE Orpheus Roye (Steelers) OL Everett Lindsay (Ravens) S Percy
Ellsworth from (Giants) RB Errict Rhett from (Ravens) DE Keith McKenzie
(Packers) LB Marty Moore (Patriots) OT Roman Oben (Giants) WR David Patten
(Giants) OT James Brown (Dolphins) WR Zola Davis DT Ryan Kuehl OL Chris
KEY GOINGS OT Lomas Brown (Giants) CB Antonio Langham (Patriots) DE John
Thierry (Packers) QB Jamie Martin (Jaguars) CB Ryan McNeil (Cowboys) OL
Scott Rehberg (Bengals) NT John Jurkovic OL Orlando Bobo (Ravens) DB
Marquez Pope (Raiders) WR Leslie Shepherd (Dolphins) RB Abdul Kareem
TOP DRAFT CHOICES DT Courtney Brown (1st round, No. 1 overall) WR Dennis
Northcutt (2) WR Jajuan Dawson (3) RB Travis Prentice (3)
Johnson had almost as many yards receiving (986) as the Browns as a team
had rushing (1,150). ... Tim Couch rushed for 267 yards last season. On
the other hand, he lost 359 yards on 56 sacks.
On Sept. 10, the Browns travel to Cincinnati for the first regular-season
game to be played at Paul Brown Stadium, named to honor the man who
created both franchises.
Just one week later, on Sept. 17, the Browns host the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Why is this a big game? If you don't know, you're not a Browns fan. But
we'll explain. The Browns' longtime rivals spoiled the opening of
Cleveland Browns Stadium with a 43-0 walloping. The Browns got revenge at
Three Rivers last season, but it's not the same as winning in front of the
The Browns and the Eagles, who meet Dec. 10 at Cleveland Browns Stadium
have two of the more exciting young quarterbacks in the league in Couch
and Donovan McNabb. Tune in to watch them go at it.
TO BE ANSWERED...
Will the offensive line improve?
The Browns made an attempt by bringing in Lindsay and Oben, but how far
the team has come is hard to say, especially considering Ty Detmer was
lost for the season when he ruptured his Achilles trying to avoid a sack.
The offensive line must improve so Couch can take advantage of the Browns
many talented young receivers. Couch was sacked 56 times last season. If
that happens again, the Browns won't show much improvement from 2-14.
Will the running game improve?
It's hard to imagine it not getting better - the Browns were last in the
league in rushing last season. Rhett has been plagued by injuries, Terry
Kirby is not a huge threat and third-round pick Travis Prentice is
Will the rushing defense be better?
The Browns gave up 171 yards per game on the ground last season but the
addition of defensive end Courtney Brown, the first overall pick in the
draft, will help.