Browns @ Seahawks – Game #14 Preview
For the first time in many weeks, the Browns are coming off of a victory. These have obviously been few and far between this campaign, and many odds makers feel that this will not continue in Seattle. The orange and brown are expected to be defeated handily to a solid football team that appears to be heading once again to the postseason. However, if the Browns can dominate the way they did last week (which is extremely unlikely) – there is a shot at an enormous upset. Let’s take a peek into this contest.
Quarterback – This game can be a huge litmus test to see how far along Johnny Manziel’s progression is coming. The second year signal caller is getting much better each time he takes the field; however this Sunday he will more than likely face his stiffest test in the league. If the quarterback can eliminate the dumb passes over the middle of the field and continue to play smart football – then the Browns will not get blown out. It will come down to Manziel running and hitting open targets at a high rate to determine whether they can actually have a chance at victory.
Running Back – I highly doubt that Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson will perform as well as they did in their previous outing. Maybe that gave them the confidence to find running lanes and move the ball with ease between the tackles. The short dump offs and screen plays also worked pretty well – perhaps John DeFilippo should continue this trend in Seattle. If the Browns can rush for over 100 yards then a victory could be had by the guests.
Wide Receiver – Once again, another veteran wide out is now injured for the Browns. I was disappointed to see Brian Hartline’s season over following a broken collarbone. That means the other guys (outside of Travis Benjamin) will have to step up in his absence. One receiver who saw playing time but did not amount to any output was Terrelle Pryor. I would like to see him involved in this contest; will he be great against the Seahawks’ secondary? That is highly unlikely, but seeing if he should remain with team is a necessary objective.
Tight End – What should be expected other than great things for Gary Barnidge? I do not envision the tight end hauling in a touchdown in this game, but could see a handful of catches for many yards. I am very glad he re-signed for three years after this campaign ends and look forward to many fine plays down the road. E.J. Bibbs saw some time in the backfield as a blocker – I wouldn’t mind seeing the rookie as a route runner (especially with the Hartline injury). Hopefully he can add something to an offense that needs firepower.
Offensive Line – Is it the personnel, the scheme, or did the Browns just play a terrible team? Austin Paszor had his issues, but filled in nicely at left guard. I am intrigued to find out if the Browns can continue to give Johnny time to stay in the pocket and find open receivers, as well as open running lanes for both Crowell and Johnson. This will not be an easy task – but the guys upfront could be inspired by guy under center. I fear this week’s game could be an ugly one but keeping the quarterback clean can surely help.
Defensive Line – This should be an interesting challenge for the guys up front for the Browns’ defense. Thomas Rawls left last week’s game and could be replaced by Bryce Brown – therefore the team might have an opportunity to slow down an opposing rusher. Xavier Cooper is coming off a decent game and I am looking forward to the rookie helping both against the run and passing game of the Seahawks. Danny Shelton has to “get it” at some point – the nose tackle has displayed strength but has yet to be disruptive when facing opposing running plays. I would love to see the light turn on for the youngster.
Linebacker – Chris Kirksey and Nate Orchard finally made some plays last week – I hope they both see significant playing time to figure out if they can continue with this trend. Orchard did what he was drafted to do – get to the quarterback. Russell Wilson will be much harder to sack, but it would be a good opportunity to witness the rookie from Utah running down the signal caller. The guys in the middle were (shockingly) making open field tackles versus the 49ers! This is a must if the defense wants to somewhat limit the opposition.
Secondary – I am fearful that Charles Gaines will have to be asked to do a substantial amount in this contest. The rookie has been beaten repeatedly in coverage when given playing time. Fortunately it has usually been for ten yards (or so) at a time. However, Wilson could unleash the long ball on Sunday at the rookie’s expense. Tramon Williams has improved at being around opposing wide outs while the football is in the air. This could possibly take a step back when facing a guy like Doug Baldwin, but I am pulling that the veteran will be up to the challenge.
Special Teams: This part of the Browns has been awful over the past few games. Three consecutive contests giving up a blocked field goal? That is unacceptable and changes need to be made to this unit. I am not confident that the visiting team could matchup with Seattle in this department. Hopefully this is not the reason why the Browns fall on Sunday.
Coaching: Limiting Johnny’s mistakes and getting the ball out quickly was visible last game and should continue to be the blueprint for this offense. The quarterback continues to make plays and is helping out his team. On the other side of the ball, being physical at the point of attack should be a primary goal. Making the opposing signal caller work extra hard can help – so can having the correct guys in coverage (Nate Orchard cannot be defending a team’s top receiver).
Prediction (My Record: 8 – 5): I first thought that this game would be a beat down, then changed my mind to a close finish, then went back to a sizeable margin. I believe the Browns will be in the contest early, but the Seahawks will pull away in a 34 – 20 final.