Behind Enemy Lines1: Browns
Few fan bases compare to fanatical Browns fans especially in an awful season. DawgPoundDaily & Lebrownstown.com provided their answers to jclombardi’s questions about the Sunday game against the Browns.
Jclombardi: On defense, the Browns defense is ranked pretty low in the NFL. They just lost LB Jackson. However, they have some good rushers. What will the Browns do to prepare defensively trying to take advantage of the Packers weak offensive line and limit the Packers good passing attack and weak running game hoping to make it a competitive close game and to possibly win it?
DPD: The Browns are going to do their best to put pressure on the Packers, and they did so with a little success early in last week’s game against the Steelers. However, as the game progressed, they were unable to get to Roethlisberger and were completely torn apart. With the Packers’ offensive line as bad as it is, I would expect the Browns to present a number of different looks – one has to give them credit for at least trying hard. Rob Ryan will do his best to confuse the Packers, so Green Bay should also expect plenty of different blitz packages. In order to neutralize the passing game of the Packers, it is essential that the Browns get to Rodgers.
LBT: The loss of Jackson is a big one and the flu killed us last week with Rogers and Wimbley. I would say that the strategy has to be blitz from everywhere. We are a team that has nothing to lose and the Packers are passing type of team so maybe we can cause them trouble with a blitz. The key will be for the Browns defense to avoid the big letdown of a big play. They seem to play pretty well for stretches and they it all goes to waste when it comes down to it in the second half.
Jclombardi: On offense, the Browns used the wildcat formation and WR Cribbs (questionable) with some early effectiveness against the Steelers. Will they try to grind out long drives with RB Lewis and RB Harrison waiting for opportunities to go into the wildcat formation to put the ball into the hands of explosive return man and WR J. Cribbs?
DPD: The Browns are a conservative offense in nature, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they try to stick to the run early. However, we should expect to see the Wildcat used early as well to throw off the defense. The problem is that the Browns either never use it enough or don’t use it at the right times. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say you’re going to see the same old, predictable, vanilla running game that so many teams are able to stop with some wrinkles attempted to be thrown in there. Cribbs will be much more effective when returning kicks.
LBT: I think that they will continue to grind it out on the ground. The team is down to very little on the receiving end and Derek Anderson has never really shown the ability to complete passes at a high rate. I expect Cribbs to be similarly as he has been all season and hopefully he can break a big play or two. It seems like Cribbs is our entire offense at times, because even though the running game can be solid the passing attack has been absent all year.
Jclombardi: The Browns passing game has been called inept, having traded WR Edwards. What can QB Anderson and the Browns passing attack do to have a good game against the Packers new 3-4 defense and highly touted defensive backfield?
DPD: Inept is certainly one way to describe it. The only way the Browns will have success passing the ball is by taking chances down the field, keeping the defense honest. Mohamed Massaquoi is a good deep threat, and should utilized as such. It would be nice if the Browns receivers help out Derek Anderson and actually start catching some of his passes.
LBT: The only thing that I can imagine will work would be based on having success on the ground first. That way they could take some shots downfield out of play action. Even then though with Massaquoi as their number one option and with no real tight ends of receiver depth to speak of the passing will be expected to be weak. All of these problems are then compounded by a QB that has trouble making the short possession throws and completing a high percentage of his passes.
Jclombardi: The Packers beat the Browns in the preseason 17-0. Now, the Browns are 1-5 suffering from the flu, personnel issues, and growing dislike for the new coach Mangini. What will it take to get a winning different outcome for the Browns in this regular season game?
DPD: Now, if the Browns are going to win, I do believe special teams will once again play a major role, as it did in their only win of the season over the Bills. Josh Cribbs, as always, will play a major role in the return game and Dave Zastudil is having a great season punting the ball. If he can pin the Packers deep in their own zone, and the defense can get pressure on Aaron Rodgers, the Browns will be close in this game. The key will come in whether or not the Browns take chances downfield and use the Wildcat with some effectiveness.
LBT: You may have said it best in the question. In order for the Browns to have a good chance in a game right now they need to have big plays from Josh Cribbs in the return game and they need to move the ball on the offensive end. It seems every week the defense plays solid for a quarter or a half only to unravel, because the offense cannot keep them off of the field.