A Look at Browns vs. Cardinals – Game #8
The team looks bad and is coming off an awful performance, now the Browns are playing one of the best teams in the NFL. Once again the odds are not in their favor – it would take a herculean effort to finally earn a win. Let’s take a gander at what is in store for this matchup.
Quarterback – The team might as well see Johnny Manziel for the rest of the season – for evaluation purposes. He will be facing a dominating defensive unit that will likely test him on every play. As long as he can avoid making poor mistakes that his predecessor succumbed to, then there’s a chance that he can succeed with this team. Finding the end zone a few times will be critical.
Running Back – I want to see Robert Turbin get at least twenty carries in this matchup. This litmus test for the veteran might give the Browns assurance that they can actually move the ball via the ground. Duke Johnson should still remain a receiving option, with a handful of carries. Finding out what Isaiah Crowell can do best should be one of John DeFilippo’s priorities going forward.
Wide Receiver – There’s got to be a guy to step up for the Browns’ receiving unit in this contest (outside of Travis Benjamin). If Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel can haul in a long gainer – and more importantly, hold on to the ball – then that will be a big step forward. I would like to see a Browns’ wide out find the end zone in this meeting, but the chances of that happening do not look great.
Tight End – Will anyone besides Gary Barnidge get involved in the passing game (at the tight end spot)? Jim Dray was slightly active last matchup, but the staff refuses to see what E.J. Bibbs is made of. Hopefully they wise up and the undrafted rookie can finally see the field and make plays the way he did in the preseason.
Offensive Line – I don’t know what it’s going to take for the offensive line to finally play well. Is it a change in scheme, play calls, or personnel that will make the difference? The answer is probably a combination of each; however not committing dumb penalties would be a tremendous improvement for the offensive line. Unfortunately the issues upfront cannot be pinned on a single guy – all five have got to pick it up.
Defensive Line – The sieve known as the Browns’ defensive front should give way to many yards to Chris Johnson and company. I really wish I felt more positively about this group, but they have not give me reason to be hopeful. Guys like Randy Starks, Desmond Bryant, and Armonty Bryant can make the occasional play – but not do it on a consistent basis. One of the two rookies might want to pick up the professional game and soon.
Linebacker – Hopefully Craig Robertson can get back in the lineup and help out the inside linebacker group. Karlos Dansby and Chris Kirksey have played more than adequately these past few contests. The guys on the outside have been extremely disappointing. I cannot point to one guy who can either rush the passer exceptionally or be reliable in pass coverage. Like the defensive line, perhaps a rookie can finally be the spark plug for this unit.
Secondary – Having two starters sit out the past few weeks has not been a good thing for this franchise. I would like to see both Joe Haden and Tashaun Gipson back on the field; while Pierre Desir has been performing reasonably well, Jordan Poyer has had his issues in preventing the big play. Going against a wide receiving group that features Larry Fitzgerald is a tall order for any team – the Browns need all of their playmakers available to limit these athletes.
Special Teams: Travis Benjamin has not been able to break the long return in the past few weeks – as teams have punted away from the speedy veteran. I like the duo of kickers for the Browns but this game will likely not come down to a field goal by Travis Coons. Overall, this should be a pretty much even matchup between the two teams.
Coaching: The defense must luck their way into stopping opposing running backs. I do not know what Jim O’Neil can do to put his guys in the best spot possible to succeed. Offensively, if the coaches do not trust the power of the line – they must lean on the passing game to provide an opportunity for rushing attempts.
Prediction (My Record: 3 – 4): There’s no wavering for me in this contest; the Cardinals will pick up where the Rams left off. I envision the Browns falling behind and never being able to catch up – losing at home by the score of 27 – 13.