Are you ready for some football?

Kenny Roda will be writing a weekly blog on Cleveland Scores covering the entire Cleveland sports universe. Check back often for his updates!

Baseball season is over in Cleveland…It’s time for football!

By dealing Bob Wickman last weekend the Indians put an end to a very disappointing baseball season. But then again, did we really need them to trade Wickman to tell us this season was over? But that made it official which can only mean one thing. It’s officially FOOTBALL SEASON in Ohio! With Cleveland being a football-dominant city anyway, fans can get out their Browns and Ohio St. gear and start making their Saturday and Sunday plans.

Ohio State eyeing national championship

The Buckeyes are picked by a number of publications as the preseason #1 team. The Browns, with all of their off-season moves, have fans excited about making major strides, maybe even getting back to .500 this year. And you know what, both Ohio St. and Browns fans have reason to be ecstatic.

Jim Tressel has a team that isn’t your typical Tressel team. It’s loaded with offense and has alot of holes to fill on defense. Both quarterback Troy Smith and wide receiver/kick returner Ted Ginn Jr. are Heisman Trophy candidates, and will be called upon to put up a lot of points as the defense grows from losing nine starters from last year’s squad. That means for the first time in the Tressel era at OSU, the offense will have to carry the defense, which could result in Tressel opening things up. That should make Ohio St. fans everywhere excited and thrilled. But will it win them a national title? Who knows. But I will say this of coach Tressel.

When he was at Youngstown St. and won four national titles, he didn’t win them the exact same way every time. He adapted to the players he had and made the adjustments necessary in order to win and I expect the same from him this season at Ohio State. September 9th at defending national champion Texas will give us a good idea if the Buckeyes are serious title contenders. If they can do what the Longhorns did last year, go on the road early into a hostile environment and come away with a victory, then the Buckeyes will be considered the favorites to get back to the Fiesta Bowl in January and play for the national championship.

Regardless, it should be an exciting year for Ohio St. fans all across the country.

Browns looking for improvement

As for Romeo Crennel and the Browns. There was plenty of movement this off-season and most of it was positive. The biggest and best acquisition was signing free agent center and local product, center LeCharles Bentley. He will anchor what has been the Browns biggest weakness since they returned to the NFL in 1999, the offensive line. Adding a Pro Bowl center and a new left tackle in Kevin Shaffer, to go along with the remaining vets on the O-Line, should provide young quarterback Charlie Frye with the best offensive line this team has had in eight years. Frye will be under the microscope in his second season to prove he is NFL-worthy, but more importantly, Cleveland Browns fans quarterback-worthy. Like Bentley and veteran newcomers Joe Jurevicius and punter Dave Zastudil, Frye might get a break from the fans because he’s a local product. But that honeymoon period will last only so long. He must produce or the fans will be calling for the backup QB and you really don’t want that on this team right now because Ken Dorsey is currently second in command at the quarterback position. The other option might be 92-year-old Vinny Testaverde, and you really don’t want that, do you? The one loss that hurt the Browns in the off-season was Trent Dilfer. He would have been perfect in the role as Frye’s backup, but Dilfer would not accept that role here in Cleveland, so the team had to move him.

Other moves that should help this team get closer to .500 are the additions of more veterans on defense like Willie McGinest and Ted Washington. Their veteran presence and football ability, even at their age, will upgrade a Browns defense that needs a lot of improvement. They may be short term improvements, but it is money spent wisely. Add in a healthy Gary Baxter at cornerback and rookie linebackers Kamerion Wimbley, the team’s first-round pick, and second rounder D’Qwell Jackson, and things are moving in the right direction for Romeo Crennel’s 3-4 defense.

The other two factors that will make this a better Browns football team are the returns of tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. and, eventually, wide receiver Braylon Edwards. And, if they can keep him out of jail, the return of 1,000-yard rusher Reuben Droughns. Both K2 and Edwards are coming off injuries from a year ago. Winslow should be ready from the get go, while Edwards will probably join the team at some point during the middle of the season, if not sooner. Droughns, who has had his off the field problems as of late, proved on the field he is worthy of being an every down back. These three players, along with that improved offensive line, should help take some of the pressure off Charlie Frye.

But what this season will all come down to is whether the former Akron quarterback can handle the position for 16 games at the NFL level. He won’t be called upon like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady as the focal point to win most of the games. His job will be to handle the position well, get better each week, and not try to do to much. If Charlie Frye understands that and can grow with each snap he takes in practice, in the preseason, and during the regular season, then getting close to .500 or better is a good possibility for this team. And even if he struggles, it’ll still be alot more fun than watching what we’ve had to endure at the Jake from Dolan’s Discounts this year!

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