Cleveland is in a bad way right now. LeBron James hates his own city. Fausto Carmona was the Indians' only All-Star selection. And the Browns have nine victories in the last two years. Can things get any worse? Well, let's take a closer look at the Browns on the 25th stop of NESN.com's 32-day pilgrimage through the NFL.
2009 Record: 5-11 (missed playoffs)
2010 Schedule Difficulty: Their opponents went a combined 132-124 (.516 winning percentage) in 2009, which is tied for the 10th most difficult schedule in the NFL.
Key Additions: Cornerback Joe Haden (draft), quarterback Jake Delhomme, quarterback Seneca Wallace, running back Montario Hardesty (draft), fullback Peyton Hillis, cornerback Sheldon Brown, quarterback Colt McCoy (draft), tight end Ben Watson, inside linebacker Scott Fujita
Key Losses: Quarterback Brady Quinn, quarterback Derek Anderson, running back Jamal Lewis, defensive end Kamerion Wimbley
Burning Question: How will the quarterback situation play out? The Browns completely overhauled the position this offseason, saying sayonara to Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson, and acquiring Jake Delhomme (free agency), Seneca Wallace (trade) and Colt McCoy (draft). Delhomme is easily the most accomplished of the group, but his career has gone on a serious downward spiral. He will still likely have every opportunity to win the starting job in training camp.
Wallace, who is the most underrated video-game quarterback of the last decade, has experienced some decent success in a limited role during the last two years in Seattle. In 11 starts since 2008, he has completed 212-of-348 passes (60.9 percent) for 2,157 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions. If given an honest chance to compete for a starting job in Cleveland, Wallace might actually surprise some people.
McCoy, a third-round steal in April's draft, figures to be groomed slowly. It seems that the only chance he'll earn any real playing time in 2010 is if Delhomme and Wallace fail spectacularly. Although, realistically, that could very well happen.
2010 Outlook: Head coach Eric Mangini was lucky to escape the chopping block after the Browns won their last four games of 2009, and that momentum could carry some weight with the young Cleveland roster. In all fairness, there isn't a ton to be excited about this season, especially in the tough AFC North, but the future could be bright with Josh Cribbs and the new rookie class.
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