Power Rankings: Preseason: 28. This week: 32.
Where they stand: The Cleveland Browns (1-7) are even worse than originally projected. Although I predicted this team would finish last in the AFC North by a sizable margin, I felt the Browns were capable of winning four or five games by simply playing smart football. But halfway through the season even that low total seems tough. This team lacks talent on both sides of the ball and doesn’t have enough great players to overcome mistakes. Of Cleveland's seven losses, four have been by three touchdowns or more.
Disappointments: The quarterback carousel in Cleveland between Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn has been a major disappointment. Coach Eric Mangini spent the entire offseason evaluating the two and said he planned to stick to his decision. But after Quinn won the job in the preseason, Mangini reneged and benched him after only 10 quarters. Anderson’s performance was even less inspiring as he had the lowest passer rating of any starting quarterback in the league. Cleveland is going back to Quinn for Monday's game against the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns have to see what the former first-round pick can do this season.
Surprises: When you fire your general manager eight games into a new regime, that is a huge surprise. George Kokinis was let go by the Browns during the bye after a short and mostly uneventful stint in Cleveland. Kokinis had the official title of GM. But it was pretty clear early that Kokinis was not getting final say on the roster decisions when the team kept bringing in former New York Jets players during free agency. Naturally there was some butting of heads behind the scenes and in the end Kokinis lost his job. Now the Browns are in search of a new personnel leader.
Outlook: The Browns are going to be hard-pressed to win games in the AFC North. So their best chance to turn things around probably is winning outside of the division. The Browns have games on their schedule against the Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders that on the surface seem winnable. But the Browns have to play a lot harder and a lot smarter during the second half. Don’t think for one second that these games aren’t important. Browns owner Randy Lerner will be watching his team very closely to determine if this group is headed in the right direction.