Previewing the Browns @ Rams – Game #7
These tough losses have somewhat hurt my enthusiasm for the Browns, but I am still ready to preview their upcoming matchup. They travel to visit a well-rested Rams team, who will be another difficult matchup for the orange and brown. I don’t feel they need a huge overhaul and are very close to finally getting over the hump. Will they be able to slay the demons and win in St. Louis?
Quarterback – The real Josh McCown was (likely) the one on display last week – but here’s hoping he can be better than that this week. Turning the ball over three times is unacceptable; I anticipate the Rams to bring pressure consistently to force the signal caller into the same kind of mistakes. Not throwing that mind-numbing interception will be vital in this matchup, but that still may not be enough to earn a victory for the Browns.
Running Back – Now the Browns have a stable of three running backs. Robert Turbin’s style would appear that he is best man to run between the tackles. I would still like to see Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell get carries, but their ability as receivers should be on display more often. Pairing Turbin with one of the other backs would be an interesting move and could give the Rams’ staff something extra to think about.
Wide Receiver – It would be nice if another wide receiver could step up and be as dependable as Travis Benjamin has been. Andrew Hawkins has been progressing as of late, but he really needs to take that step forward and display separation on routes. Brian Hartline is beyond due to get involved in games; hopefully he can secure a few key grabs in this contest. Having another option in the passing game would be a sage move for this team.
Tight End – What more can you say about Gary Barnidge? The veteran has been as solid as a rock and a touchdown machine in the process. I anticipate he will find the end zone once again this week, but I would like to see him with more receptions between the twenty-yard lines. Rob Housler left last game with an injury – perhaps E.J. Bibbs can finally see the field this Sunday.
Offensive Line – The guys upfront got embarrassed on a few pass blocking assignments last contest. I fear I will see similar results against a Rams’ front that features Chris Long, Aaron Donald, and many other talented athletes. If John Greco and Mitchell Schwartz continue to get driven back with ease, as well as have their issues at the point of attack – the change to Cameron Erving might be around the corner.
Defensive Line – This one could get ugly for the guys upfront – I fully expect Todd Gurley to continue the streak of 100 plus rushing yards against the Browns’ defense. The coaches and players both know it’s coming – and yet they are still unable to slow down opposing running backs. I don’t know if there should be personnel changes or if they should bring up an outside linebacker on the line of scrimmage, but the Browns are being the definition of insane in terms to trying to stop the run.
Linebacker – The positives are that Barkevious Mingo has had a knack for defending lob passes. Other than that, the outside linebackers have been either invisible or unproductive. They have been extremely distant from opposing signal callers – allowing them to complete passes with ease. Should Mingo be a pure rusher? Can Nate Orchard make the transition to an every down linebacker (and soon)? Something has got to give. That was one of the best performances by the Browns’ inside linebackers last game – unfortunately it was not enough. I hope Karlos Dansby and Chris Kirksey can keep it going, but it won’t be easy.
Secondary – The drops by Demaryus Thomas made the Browns’ secondary look better than they actually were. The missed tackles and blown coverage are visible on a weekly basis – Nick Foles will take advantage of this inferior part of the defense. I am not certain of the availability of Tashaun Gipson and Joe Haden – but frankly I don’t even think that will matter in this contest.
Special Teams: For the first time in a while, the Browns do not have a clear advantage in the matchup between special teams. The key reason is Tavon Austin; the speedster can change this game in the matter of seconds. I hope the Browns can limit his return yards – but a long gainer remains possible.
Coaching: Last week coach Pettine started the game with an aggressive plan and finished with a conservative one. He should look for the “ground and pound” to start this contest and see how things sort their way out. Defensively, they know they will get run on – find a way to stop it!
Prediction (My Record: 2 – 4): Another game, another loss is what I am seeing for the orange and brown. The Rams hold off the visitors by the score of 27 – 23, and the Browns fall to a 2 – 5 record.