When one thinks of the Cleveland Browns what comes to mind is the color brown. Epononymous, yes, but brown nonetheless. Without a gunslinging QB or a power running back, football fans cannot shake the brown in the Browns. Despite the coup of QB Brady Quinn, WR Tim Carter brings nothing but the miasma of failure - the failure to develop into a third WR/legitmate long ball threat. Brown.
28-year-old RB Jamaal Lewis is coming off a season in which he increased his 2005 rushing average from 3.4 yards per carry to 3.6 yards per carry. Does any other color but "brown" come to mind? Has there been a player who has gotten more mileage out of one season (2003) than Jamaal Lewis?
However, there is reason for hope (and brighter colors). QB Charlie Frye did complete 64.3% of his passes last season. His TD/INT ratio was horrid (a very brown 10/17), but the completion percentage is the focus for a young player in his first full-season at QB. What needs to be watched is how well Frye does early. If the TD/INT ratio does not improve, the Browns will not win. And if the Browns do not win, then The Brady Quinn Watch will intensify.
If one assumes RB Jamaal Lewis will be able to get 300 carries, and there is very little behind him to threaten that number (more brown), then the key to the Browns success rests on third-year WR Braylon Edwards and secon-, I mean fourth year, TE Kellen Winslow. With 61 receptions and 884 yards, Edwards is a prime candidate to take the Lee Evans jump to elite WR status. Is it unreasonable to draw a parallel between Edwards and Frye and Evans and Losman? I don't think so.
A vital component to that occuring, and the Browns improving on last season's 4-12 record, is the rapid recovery of TE Kellen Winslow from micro-fracture surgery on his knee. With 89 receptions in his first full season, Winslow justified the 6th overall pick the Browns used to draft him out of the University of Miami. Assuming full health, Winslow is a top three TE with the chance to be the top one. His presense makes the #2 WR an afterthought. Without him, the parallel between Edwards/Frye and Evans/Losman becomes uncanny.
With a 4-12 record, the Browns Defense has a chance to surprise if the schedule makers' prognosticating ability holds true. Even if that ability proves reliable, the Defense won't be worth grabbing. K Phil Dawson's fantasy value rides on the continued improvement of the Frye/Edwards combo along with the good health of Rb Jamaal Lewis and TE Kellen Winslow.
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