- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
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DURING THE heady days of Cleveland's off-season, the coach received a contract extension, the quarterback took snaps at the Pro Bowl and the star receiver bet Michael Phelps that for every gold medal the swimmer won in Beijing, he would score two touchdowns. After a 1--3 start to the season, Romeo Crennel is hearing questions about his future, Derek Anderson may soon be holding a clipboard, and Braylon Edwards needs 15 TDs just to break even on his wager with his Michigan workout buddy. "We know what business we're in," Crennel said just days before Cleveland pulled out a messy but much-needed 20--12 victory at woeful Cincinnati. "If you win, people like you more. If you lose, they don't like you as much."
If the league's underachievers were placed in a classroom, the Browns would be the one sent to a corner with a dunce cap. Seen as the AFC's It team after going 10--6 last season and narrowly missing the playoffs, Cleveland has wilted under the weight of expectation and national exposure. Though he rallied his team to victory on Sunday, Anderson has been erratic since last December, when the Browns suffered two costly losses. During practices last week, Crennel increased second-year backup Brady Quinn's first-team workload, a move that seemed to signal a shake-up. It still may come, after Anderson completed 15 of 24 passes for only 138 yards. He's looked indecisive and lacking in confidence, reflected in his abysmal 49.9 passer rating.
Anderson isn't the lone reason for the Browns' rocky start. Josh Cribbs, a game-breaking kick returner, has been slowed by a high ankle sprain. Offensive coordinator Rod Chudzinski's pass-heavy play-calling isn't fooling anyone. Edwards, who missed three preseason games with a lacerated foot, has 11 catches—including his first TD on Sunday—and an unusual number of drops. At 1--3, Cleveland's season isn't over, but the Browns, who have a bye this week, need some serious tweaks before they host the Super Bowl--champion Giants on Monday night in Week 6. Besides boosting running back Jamal Lewis's workload (he was averaging fewer than 15 carries a game before rushing 25 times against Cincinnati) and finding more seams for tight end Kellen Winslow, Cleveland ought to turn the franchise over to Quinn, the Ohio native, Notre Dame standout and 22nd pick in the 2007 draft. The Browns know what Anderson can do. It's time to find out about Quinn.
Cleveland isn't the only presumed contender that's struggling. Here's a prognosis on a trio of other one-win teams.
As long as Peyton Manning is upright, Indy can compete with anybody, but it's getting harder every year. And harder still without All-Pro safety Bob Sanders, who's out for at least a month. With Tom Brady done for the season, you'd have said the Colts would dominate the conference. They may not even get out of the AFC South.
For Seattle, the key to the division will be the continued resurgence of Julius Jones, the former Cowboy who's a surprising third in the league in rushing yards per game. And all those rainy games at their home stadium, where they're 34--8 since 2003, won't hurt.
ONLY AT SI.COM Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback.