Browns @ Falcons – A Preview of Game #11
Following that terrible outing last week, the Browns must dust themselves off and get ready for another tough contest. While losing more key members on their defense via injury (Karlos Dansby, Jabaal Sheard), they are getting a large part of the offense back (Josh Gordon). The Browns’ offense must get back on track, as they face a formidable counterpart. Here’s more of a synopsis into this contest.
Offense: I thought I was watching Brandon Weeden last week behind center. Brian Hoyer cannot toss thirty incompletions consistently and expect his team to have any sort of success. The offense will, more than likely, be tailored more to the running the football. Having an exceptional weapon available can slightly alter the team’s game plan, but there’s no way number six heaves it up fifty times this Sunday.
Well, now it’s squarely up to the pair of rookie running backs, following the release of Ben Tate. Glenn Winston (who has not carried for the Browns) will now have a shot at getting some playing time. At this point, Terrance West should get at least sixty-five percent of the carries, as he has done two things that Isaiah Crowell has not – hanging on the ball and pass blocking. I want to see this group go well over 100 yards against the Falcons, with a few scores.
What can Josh Gordon do for this offense? The obvious is provide a consistent deep threat on passing downs. The play calling can now change from horizontal routes to more vertical ones. Additionally, hopefully Gordon can change how the defense attacks – including moving safeties away from the line of scrimmage. Will the Browns’ running attack be improved as a result? We can only hope.
I would like to believe the offensive line will outperform their play facing the Texans. The opposition ranks in the bottom ten against the run (much like the Browns), so it would appear that the odds are in the guest’s favor. However, the five upfront (alongside Gary Barnidge and Jim Dray) must still do their job. The toss play had initial success early last week, but I want to see the Browns pound it in the middle and run more off-tackle in the Georgia Dome. I have a sneaking suspicion those two plays can work well.
Defense: Next man up applies (once again) to the Browns’ defensive line situation. I am eager to see how Jim O’Neil and Mike Pettine piece and part three guys at a time. Ahtyba Rubin and Desmond Bryant are the only two veterans remaining, but Sione Fua will get his shot to prove his worth in the NFL. They have not been able to shut down running backs all year long – veterans Steven Jackson and Jaquizz Rodgers will likely have a field day against this unit. My only hope is that the guests prevent the Falcons from many trips to the end zone.
The injury to Jabaal Sheard forces Barkevious Mingo into a larger role. He has made some plays this campaign, but is still wildly inconsistent to my liking. Ideally, they need a third guy to be included in this rotation – who’s going to step up? The leadership and solid play of Karlos Dansby will be greatly missed. I like Craig Robertson and Chris Kirksey, but am fearful that they will not be able to replicate the type of play before Dansby’s injury. This is definitely their opportunity to shine, hopefully they can impress.
This is a giant test for the secondary of the Cleveland Browns – they have not faced a tandem like Roddy White and Julio Jones all season long. In addition to big games needed by Joe Haden and Buster Skrine, K’Waun Williams must continue to grow as a rookie and develop into a reliable nickel cornerback. He has held off first-round pick Justin Gilbert, and I believe he can help this unit tremendously. Will Gilbert get into the starting rotation anytime soon? It doesn’t look that way, but he’s got plenty of shots to prove he ought to be on the field.
Special Teams: The Browns failed in every aspect of special teams last week. They cannot miss field goals, cover kicks poorly, and fail to return kicks themselves. Travis Benjamin did an adequate job, I envision him being better in the dome.
Coaching: It was refreshing hearing coach Pettine take accountability for his decisions versus the Texans. Now, he must correct those on the road. This will definitely occur, but will the talent on the field be enough to get back to their winning ways?
Prediction (My Record: 6 – 4): All the injuries will outweigh the success of the offense and defense for the visiting bunch. The Falcons take an early lead and never look back – by the score of 27 – 17.