Getting Back to .500 – What it Will Take
It’s now a chance to return to the gridiron for the Cleveland Browns. I hope the time off was very productive for both the athletes and coaches and everyone has refocused on winning contests. They face their weakest opponent to date in the Tennessee Titans, but that’s compared to three outstanding rosters. It’s on the road, some place the Browns need to find success. Below are a few things that the Browns ought to accomplish to win their next game…
#1 – Continued to be a Rush-First Offense
The strength of the Browns’ offense also happens to be the weakness of their opponent. Averaging over 130 yards allowed on the ground, the three-headed monster of Ben Tate, Terrance West, and Isaiah Crowell should see ample opportunities to tote the football on Sunday. This should be a contest where the Browns “run, to set up the pass” – opening up throws to Miles Austin, Jordan Cameron, and Andrew Hawkins. I expect to see at least two scores coming from Browns’ running backs.
#2 – Commit to Stopping the Opponent’s Run Game
On the flip side, the opposition averages 130 yards gained while rushing the football. The Browns have not been able to slow down opponents through the first three contests, and must do that if they expect to secure a victory. Does this mean employing more four-men defensive fronts (especially on early downs)? I can see that happening, as larger guys upfront can set the edge quicker than athletes a few yards back. They can bring up Jabaal Sheard or Paul Kruger to the defensive line in certain situations – whatever it takes to stop Shonn Greene and Bishop Sankey.
#3 – Win the Turnover Battle
The Titans have tossed a pair of interceptions in their first two defeats this season. The visitors need to have something similar to that occur in Nashville. Brian Hoyer and the offense have been perfect in maintaining possession thus far, but obviously that will not continue all year long. Therefore, getting the opposing signal caller to force passes into the arms of Tashaun Gipson, Joe Haden, or Donte Whitner (to name a few) is vital for more offensive opportunities – and more importantly, a win for the Browns.
#4 – Force the Titans to Play Catch-Up
The offense of the Titans is far from high-octane, meaning they are not accustomed to scoring a tremendous amount of points. Should the Browns come out and get a large lead, I like their chances in this contest. I fail to see Jake Locker and the Titans putting together consecutive drives for scores – Jim O’Neil and the defense should release the hounds in those situations.
#5 – Regain the Confidence of a Few Guys
Joe Haden, Phil Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin, and Barkevious Mingo are four defenders who have yet to play up to their capabilities in 2014. This game would be an excellent opportunity for all of them to get back on track and make some solid plays. Taylor and Rubin should stuff some running plays, Mingo must knife into the offensive backfield with ease (consistently), while Haden better blanket any man across the line of scrimmage from him. Getting that first taste of success will increase confidence and there’s a good chance improved play will continue.
Conclusion: For the first time in 2014, this is a game I expect the Browns to win. On paper, they are the superior team and I feel they can easily play to the capabilities. A defeat would be a crushing blow, but this squad expects to come home with a 2 – 2 record.