Until the inevitable next player transaction, the turnover of players on the Cleveland Browns' roster stands at 43 percent.
Coach Eric Mangini isn't sure what a normal rate is, but it's safe to guess that 43 percent is a high number. It's an indication that a new coach is taking over a team that was terrible the year before, which means open season on players brought in by previous regimes.
The main issue isn't how different the roster looks compared to last season. The question is: how much better or worse is the team?
Considering the shaky track record former general manager Phil Savage had in four years on the job, it shouldn't be difficult for Mangini to achieve better results. Then again, we thought the same thing when Butch Davis replaced the Chris Palmer-Dwight Clark tandem.
Thirteen of the 30 draft picks during the Savage years are still with the team, which would seem to be a poor average. Nine of the 13 are starters - receiver Braylon Edwards, safety Brodney Pool, linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, fullback Lawrence Vickers, offensive tackle Joe Thomas, quarterback Brady Quinn (a safe assumption), cornerback Eric Wright and cornerback Brandon McDonald.
Collectively, the aforementioned nine look decent on paper. That's assuming, of course, that Edwards cuts down on dropped passes, Wimbley plays like he did as a rookie in 2006, Thomas continues to play at a Pro Bowl level and Quinn becomes a franchise-caliber player.
The problem the Browns had during the Savage regime and, in fact, since their return to the NFL in 1999 has been the inability to acquire difference-makers. Quick, now, name one player that opposing teams fear? It's not easy, is it?
The first name that comes to mind is Joshua Cribbs, who's a threat to score each time he returns a punt or a kick. Thomas has made the Pro Bowl in both of his seasons, but he's a finesse player that's good in pass protection but not an overpowering run blocker. Wimbley's 11-sack rookie season prompted changes by opposing offenses to negate his pass rush, and it's worked well - nine combined sacks the last two seasons.
One of several reasons why the Pittsburgh Steelers are good every season is because their defense is never bad. The Steelers, like the Browns, use a base 3-4 look. The key players in a 3-4 are the outside linebackers. The Steelers have James Harrison, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year last season, and an ever-improving LaMarr Woodley. The Browns have Wimbley and 32-year-old David Bowens, who didn't play in the preseason because of an injury.
While the Browns' overall level of talent isn't impressive, the roster appears to be better than last season. The defensive line has a healthy Robaire Smith and Corey Williams, plus the additions of Kenyon Coleman and C.J. Mosley. Shaun Smith, who logged significant time last season, was cut in camp and then a few weeks later the Detroit Lions let him go.
The addition of Eric Barton at inside linebacker and the departure of Andra Davis is a net gain.
The offensive line should be better simply by not having Kevin Shaffer at right tackle and having rookie Alex Mack develop at center. John St. Clair isn't a long-term answer at right tackle, but he can't be as bad as Shaffer. Mack progressed steadily during camp and should be an upgrade over Hank Fraley, who remains as a back up.
The receiver corps added rookies Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie along with dependable veteran Mike Furrey. Cribbs has finally been moved into the mix, which is a good thing. If Edwards has a big season, this group could be a strength.
Rookie running back James Davis provides a fresh set of legs in the backfield. If Jamal Lewis can't get untracked, Davis might help the ground game.
Then there's Quinn (or maybe Derek Anderson). If Quinn is the starter and he plays at a consistently high level, a major problem area of the last decade will have been solved.
Will the improvement be enough for a significant increase in the number of wins? Give me a few more days before predicting a record.
I need to know for sure who will start at quarterback.