Fifteen months after declaring the Browns would switch to a 3-4 defense,
Coach Romeo Crennel has the personnel to make the defense work. That was not the
case last season when key ingredients were missing.
The Browns had no pass-rushing linebacker threat in 2005. Now they have two with
Willie McGinest and rookie Kamerion Wimbley. They also went the old-young route
at nose tackle with Ted Washington and rookie Babatunde Oshinowo.
McGinest and Washington have played a combined 28 years in the NFL. Their
leadership, as much as their skill, is imperative to making the Browns a winning
team. The Browns have finished above .500 only once since returning to the NFL,
finishing 9-7 in 2002.
"I'm looking forward to getting on the field and learning from Willie McGinest,"
Wimbley said. "I know he just came to the Browns as well. He has a lot of
knowledge just from playing in the NFL. He knows what it takes just to survive
and have a long career. I'm looking forward to learning from him."
Oshinowo had similar remarks about learning from Washington. Physically, they
are very different. At 370 pounds, Washington is 60 pounds heavier than the
rookie, yet Oshinowo says he can learn technique from Washington, and it
probably will not take him long to absorb the information. Oshinowo has a degree
in electrical engineering from Stanford.
"Playing with Ted Washington and playing for coach Crennel, it's a great thing,"
Oshinowo said. "We have played in a 3-4 set for the past two years. I have
played in and had a lot of success in the system. That's what I've been the most
comfortable with. I would say nose tackle is the one thing that I do well."
The Browns were last in the league with 23 sacks last season and 30th in run
defense. The additions of Washington and McGinest in free agency plus Wimbley
and Oshinowo in the draft should change those numbers dramatically. Yet despite
poor run defense and virtually no pass rush, the Browns allowed only 301 points.
Three teams that allowed more were in the playoffs.
Crennel envisions more third-down success with better personnel on defense,
which in turn should provide better field position for the offense. The Browns
were last in the league with 232 points scored. That is nearly a 200-point
differential from the Bengals, who scored 421 points.