Browns Keys vs. the Rams

Five Keys for the Browns vs. Rams – Preseason Game #3

What better way to get over the horrendous game played on Monday, than getting back on your home turf.  That’s right; it’s the Browns’ first home game of the 2014 season.  They face the St. Louis Rams on Saturday night – commonly known as “the dress rehearsal”, where this is more of a regular season game simulation than the other three exhibition contests.  The Browns must accomplish a few things this weekend…

#1 – Start Looking Like a Viable NFL Offense:

This should be as easy as riding a bike, yet it’s become more and more like climbing Mount Everest for the orange and brown.  They sort of have a semblance of a running attack, as well as solid at employing quick tosses to tight ends and fullbacks.  However, that seems about it – I want to see completed posts, drags, outs, and in routes on a routine basis.  Drops MUST be eliminated.

#2 – Solidifying Depth at Running Back:

Past history has indicated that the running back spot is ever changing with multiple guys getting opportunities.  Isaiah Crowell and Deion Lewis are the two guys I would like to see get at least ten carries in this contest.  If they can be included in the team’s passing game – even better.  I have no doubts about Tate and West, but can a third guy enter contests and give this rushing unit another burst?

#3 – Determining the Pecking Order at Inside Linebacker:

Rookie Chris Kirksey has been lauded for his efforts since training camp.  Not to be outdone, veteran Craig Robertson played tremendously in an attempt to hold onto his first-string job.  One of these guys (likely Robertson) might be named the season starter following this contest.  Who is backing up Karlos Dansby?  I really like watching the veteran, but he will not be on the field for every defensive snap.

#4 – Reinforce these Terrible New Rules:

The update of defensive holding and illegal contact infractions are ridiculous, and many agree.  However, the players have to abide by them, because the referees are not afraid to toss out flags.  Getting stops on third down and long is no longer a guarantee, as a potential for defensive penalties loom.  Teaching these guys and having them practice not grabbing (at all) is a very important step to improve the Browns’ secondary.

#5 – Tailor the Offense Better (to the Quarterback):

I saw that the offense used a bit more read option with Manziel than Hoyer.  I agree with that philosophy, but feel the coaching staff can do more to help out the signal callers.  Despite the fact that they may be revealing some of the playbook, it would be an advantage to see if the quarterback can make plays in the preseason that are similar to ones that will likely be called in the regular season.

Conclusion:  I’m very excited to see how this team bounces back from its debacle last week.  They could either shrug it off and say “it was only a preseason game” and continue to look sluggish.  Or they could admit embarrassment and take it out on the Rams.  I want the latter; the 2014 team is supposed to different than their predecessors.  They have to be the dominant force they claimed to once be and stop being pushovers.

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