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|11-19-2006, 07:21 AM||#1|
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By Mike Prisuta
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Bill Cowher says the Browns are better than they were a year ago and Romeo Crennel agrees, but a look at the standings contradicts the belief shared by the head coaches who will oppose one another today at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Crennel's Browns finished at 6-10 and tied with Baltimore for last place in the AFC North in 2005.
The Browns are currently tied with the Steelers for last in the division at 3-6 through nine games in 2006.
"We think we're further along, even though the record doesn't necessarily show it," Crennel said. "We're indoctrinating guys into this program and into our way of thinking and how we want things done. I think we're making progress along those lines.
"There are some things that we have to continue to work on and get better on Sundays so that our progress shows up in the won-loss column because that's how we get judged."
The Browns' winning percentage of .333 is actually a little behind last year's pace of .375. But they've already beaten a pair of teams with winning records (the Jets and Falcons are 5-4 as of today) and that's something the Browns accomplished just twice in Crennel's first season. And four of the Browns' six losses have been by eight points or less; Cleveland had just five one-score losses throughout 2005.
"I'd like to think that in our situation where we're a rebuilding program, trying to get up and going, it says that maybe we're not that far away, the fact that we can keep them close and have a chance to win at the end," Crennel said. "Even though we're losing them, we're still making progress."
The Browns rank 29th in the NFL in total offense and 19th in total defense.
The Steelers are fifth on offense and 11th on defense.
The two teams are tied, along with the Oakland Raiders, for 30th and last in the NFL in takeaway-giveaway differential at minus eight.
The Steelers sacked quarterback Charlie Frye eight times in their 41-0 shellacking of the Browns last Dec. 24 in Cleveland, but this time, they'll get their first look at tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. (the Browns' No. 1 pick in 2004) in a Cleveland uniform. Winslow Jr. is tied for second in the NFL and leads all tight ends with 56 catches.
Cleveland's 2005 No. 1 pick, wide receiver Braylon Edwards, also missed the 2005 regular-season finale but will play today.
Steelers linebacker Joey Porter remains relatively unimpressed.
"From what I've seen on film, they're a little better in certain situations, but they have pretty much the same makeup of their team as far as the quarterback position, the running back position and the weapons they have at wide receiver," Porter said. "I break a team down like that, how many superstars they have in those positions that are going to hurt us?"
The Steelers' plan defensively against Frye, who will be making his 15th NFL start, will be the same as it is against all inexperienced signal-callers.
"Put the game in the young quarterback's hands and see what he does with it," Porter said.
And see how much the Browns have truly improved.
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