Browns @ Jaguars – Game #6 Preview
Heading down to Florida, the Browns have their third shot to put a complete game together on the road. They have failed in their first two attempts so far, but are still 1 – 1 away from First Energy Stadium. Nothing surprises me in this league, but this could be the first time in awhile where the Browns can finally flex their muscles. Let’s lean in to see the matchup between the two squads.
Offense: Brian Hoyer will complete more than eight passes in this contest – that is for sure. Every week is something new; the veteran is winning contests in many different ways. I anticipate both shorter and longer tosses both to wide outs and tight ends. That being said, one should anticipate the quarterback to spread it around routinely to guys like Taylor Gabriel and Andrew Hawkins. I want to see at least two passing scores by Hoyer, and a smart game plan once again.
It’s becoming a question less of how many yards the Browns will get on the ground, and more of who will do it. Ben Tate appears to be the leader of the group and gets the tough yardage – especially in the red zone. However, Isaiah Crowell covers ground very easily (and recklessly) and warrants touches as well. I wouldn’t mind seeing Terrance West back in the fold, provided he is active. He appears to be the best pass catcher of the group – and will make it even harder on the Jaguars’ defense.
Who will step up in this contest? Is Jordan Cameron the guy once again, or should Andrew Hawkins haul in several grabs for a handful of yards. The Browns’ offense has been magical in their passing game, no matter who is securing the football. Brian Hoyer shares his tosses with multiple guys and I enjoy seeing that, because it will make it that more challenging on the opposing secondary.
Next man up, it’s time to go for John Greco and Paul McQuistan. Both played well in their new roles last week, but will that continue the rest of the season? Will Nick McDonald be groomed to be the next center for this team? It’s tough to say, but if the Browns can garner a large lead – look for the team to see if they can put the youngster in the middle of the line while keeping McQuistan available as a reserve guard.
Defense: More shuffling will continue for the Browns’ defensive front. They desperately need Ahtyba Rubin to return to this contest as they have been decimated by injuries to Armonty Bryant, Phil Taylor, and Billy Winn already. This group should stop the opposing rushing attack – their leading runner last week was Bortles with thirty-eight yards. Perhaps a young athlete can come out of nowhere and make some big plays for the Browns. It would be a welcomed and comforting sight for both fans and coaches.
I am not sure what to think about the outside linebackers for this team. Barkevious Mingo has been very underwhelming, while Paul Kruger is playing through tremendous pain. Can Jabaal Sheard and Eric Martin be the two staples on the edge? I’d like to see depth at this spot, as well as production. The Browns must find a way to utilize Mingo better. On the inside, Karlos Dansby has been rather consistent and been solid in pass coverage, while it looks like Chris Kirksey is starting to figure out the NFL. If the rookie can excel on the inside, I really like the chances that this defense will be one of the better ones in the league.
I hope Joe Haden’s hip gets better before this game begins. He could have been picked on nearly every play last week. The Jaguars have looked at Cecil Shorts as their main pass catcher; the veteran beat Haden last year for the winning score, now you have to believe the Browns’ cornerback will have revenge on his mind. Buster Skrine and K’Waun Williams (if he is healthy) should hold their own with rookies Allen Robinson and Marquise Lee. All I ask from the safeties is to do their jobs; Donte Whitner to be the enforcer against the run and Tashaun Gipson to collect an interception in pass coverage.
Special Teams: The Browns put it all together last week in the special teams; I foresee status quo by these guys. I hope Spencer Lanning only comes onto the fields as a holder, but that’s not probably realistic. Forcing turnovers and winning the field position has been huge by the Browns in the past two weeks – why shouldn’t this continue?
Coaching: There’s not a whole lot you could criticize about the coaching staff from last week’s contest. Shanahan put the offense in the best spot to win, while Pettine and O’Neil made sure the defense did not give up a touchdown (when it mattered). I want to see the coaches continue down this road; attacking the opposition on both sides of the ball.
Prediction (My Record: 4 – 1): I look for this to be a close contest early, only for the Browns to finally pull away in the second half. The Browns leave Jacksonville with a 31 – 21 win and come home after a hard fought victory.