Jun 112013
 

Rob Chudzinski6. Cleveland Browns
Head Coach: Rob Chudzinski
2012 Record: 5-11
2012 Offense: 302 points scored, 24th in points, 25th in yards (19th passing, 24th rushing)
2012 Defense: 368 points allowed, 19th in points, 23rd in yards (25th passing, 19th rushing)

 

Key Additions
Head Coach Rob Chudzinski , LB Paul Kruger, CB Kevin Barnes, DE Desmond Bryant, QB Jason Campbell, QB Brian Hoyer, WR Davone Bess, WR David Nelson, TE Kellen Davis, K Shayne Graham, LB Quentin Groves, CB Chris Owens, RB Dion Lewis, DE Barkevious Mingo, CB Leon McFadden

Key Losses
WR Josh Cribbs, K Phil Dawson, LB Scott Fujita, RB Brandon Jackson, WR Mohammed Massaquoi, LB Kaluka Maiava, DB Usuma Young, DB Sheldon Brown, TE Alex Smith, S Ray Ventrone, TE Ben Watson, DE Frostee Rucker

Why 2013 will be better
The Browns placed an off-season emphasis on defense, signing free agent linebacker Paul Kruger away from Baltimore. Kruger and D’Qwell Jackson now form the backbone of a solid linebacking corps, providing no rush for the Browns to work rookie Mingo into the rotation. The switch to a 3-4 front will see Desmond Bryant, Phil Taylor, and Ahtyba Rubin playing with their hands on the ground. On offense the Browns have improved their receiving corps, where the Browns are counting on castoffs Bess and Nelson to complement Josh Gordon, who will miss the first two games of the season for a drug policy violation (and seems to be one mistake away from losing a year), and Greg Little. Both Bess and Nelson are capable receivers, with Bess catching 61 passes in 2012 and Nelson accomplishing the same in 2011 before an injury made his miss all but one game last season.

Why 2013 will be worse
The Browns have not resolved the quarterback position, with a second year starter on a short leash in Weeden, a journeyman veteran who has started seven games over the past two seasons in Campbell, and a former Tom Brady backup who has started one NFL game in Hoyer. Suddenly the decision not to trade up for RGIII begs another glance. Trent Richardson had a mixed rookie season with 950 yards all 11 touchdowns, but a net of only 3.6 yards per carry. He is a durable back, but the offense on the whole simply lacks a lot of pop, and averaging more than last year’s 18.9 points per game is going to be a challenge. On the defensive side, the secondary has seen significant change, and Joe Haden anchors a unit that probably won’t scare too many teams. Rookie corner Leon McFadden appears set to start opposite Haden, while the safeties will be second year man Tashaun Gipson and TJ Ward.

Outlook
There is something to be said for bringing in Norv Turner to be the offensive coordinator. Turner seems better suited to this role than that of head coach, and if anyone is going to get Weeden playing well enough to make the Browns compete it will be Turner. Adding weapons at receiver doesn’t hurt, and having a solid offensive line gives the Browns the potential to surprise some teams. On the other side of the ball, switching to a 3-4 with an improved linebacking corps gives defensive coordinator Ray Horton the weapons he needs to try and disrupt opposing offenses. If the Browns can apply consistent quarterback pressure, they may be able to offset any concerns that exist in the secondary. The Browns appear capable of winning anywhere from 4 to 9 games this season, but I’ll place the over/under at 7. Consider it a good first step in banishing the “Factory of Sadness” moniker that is now the team’s unofficial slogan.

Jun 102013
 

Chip Kelly4. Philadelphia Eagles
Head Coach: Chip Kelly
2012 Record: 4-12
2012 Offense: 280 points scored, 29th in points, 15th in yards (13th passing, 13th rushing)
2012 Defense: 444 points allowed, 29th in points, 15th in yards (9th passing, 23rd rushing)

Key Additions
Head Coach Chip Kelly, FB/TE James Casey, S Patrick Chung, CB Bradley Fletcher, DT Isaac Sopoaga, LB Connor Barwin, LB Jason Phillips, S Kenny Phillips, CB Cary Williams, RB Felix Jones, P Donnie Jones, T Lane Johnson, TE Zach Ertz, QB Matt Barkley

Key Losses
CB Nnamdi Asomugha, T King Dunlap, LB Akeem Jordan, DT Derek Landri, CB Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie, G Jake Scott, DE Darryl Tapp, RB Dion Lewis

Why 2013 will be better
The injury bug took a heavy toll on the Eagles in 2012, and any improvement in this regard will increase the team’s win total. Perhaps Chip Kelly will have a better sense of how to utilize LeSean McCoy, who is one of the most talented running backs in the league, but who never seemed to be the centerpiece of Andy Reid’s offensive scheme. Perhaps Kelly will also be the coach who will get through to DeSean Jackson, and bring out his remarkable potential as well. But if 2013 is going to be more successful than 2012, it will be because the defensive additions will perform to their potentials and not force Michael Vick or Nick Foles to play from behind.

Why 2013 will be worse
Although the Eagles were 9th against the pass last season, they gave up a league high 32 touchdown passes, necessitating an overhaul to the secondary. The trouble is while they brought in Cary Williams from the Ravens, the rest of the “upgrades” in the secondary are unremarkable retreads that may not fare much better in 2013. Plus Williams has stayed away from the Eagles’ OTA’s and doesn’t seem to be off to a good start with Eagles’ management. Add this to the open question as to whether or not Chip Kelly can adapt his offensive approach to life in the NFL, and the eternal questions of how many games one can expect Vick to actually be on the field for, and how many mistakes he will make while on the field, and a repeat four win performance (or worse) is not entirely out of the question.

Outlook
On paper, the Eagles look like a team that will do better than 4-12, but how much better? Vick is not a reliable quarterback in terms of his health or his decision-making. He has fumbled the ball 32 times in the past three seasons, losing twelve of those while also throwing 30 interceptions. Toss in 85 sacks during this span of only 35 games (having missed another 13) and it is fair to say that even the most ardent Eagles’ fan should be cautious in setting on setting overly high expectations for the coming season. A final tally of six or seven wins would be a good improvement for this club as they continue to rebuild their defense and allow Chip Kelly a year to become acclimated with football beyond the college ranks. At least the days of the infamous “Dream Team” are behind them.