Splitting against the Steelers – How Can it Happen?
The first two quarters during the last time these two met was brutal, but the second half was much better (a lot like the last week’s performance by the Browns). Nonetheless, the Browns were downed by their rival in their first meeting – what can be done to right their wrongs in the second contest? Well, there are a few things the franchise should make sure to accomplish in order to garner a win…
#1 – Defense Must Start Better
In both away contests, the Browns’ defense has been torched early and has relied upon their offense to come back. They cannot do this on a regular basis and expect victory. Against the Saints, the defense excelled at the beginning and did just enough to preserve a win versus a high-flying offense. This type of blueprint will have to be duplicated should the Browns expect to get to 1 – 2 in their division.
#2 – Impose their Will – All Game Long
The Browns are a physical bunch on both sides of the ball – and must not forget that. When battling the Steelers, they must drive back defenders (on offense), while getting to the quarterback routinely (on defense). Their opponent is a squad that can easily make mid-game adjustments – therefore the Browns must continue to find ways to make it hard to win the battle in the trenches for all four quarters.
#3 – Stay Balanced on Offense
Despite trailing by twenty-four points in the opener, the Browns did a great job of sticking to the run. I do not see the team falling that far behind on Sunday, but I do see them replicating their equality of pass/run play calling. I have been impressed with this coaching staff’s decisions with personnel and how well they do not stray from one aspect of their offense. Sunday’s contest should be no exception – and I want to see the Browns move it both ways well.
#4 – Steal the Football
Last week’s contest was the first one where the Browns lost the turnover battle, and it led to almost a defeat. The team is not able to overcome surrendering the ball to their opponent more than they take it away, especially against a solid franchise. Last meeting they won the turnover margin, but still lost the game. At home, I want to see the Browns force a fumble or two – in addition to picking off a pass by Big Ben.
#5 – Work the No Huddle
The no huddle offense has been working very well for the Cleveland Browns. With the depth at running backs and receivers, I would expect that to continue to be on display at First Energy Stadium. Pounding the front seven with Ben Tate, and then inserting Isaiah Crowell to blow by the defense would be a tremendous idea. Additionally, finding an open wide out to throw to when the defense is not prepared is something the Browns should look to consistently exploit.
Conclusion: It was an ugly victory last week, but I really like the direction this team is going. The Browns have an excellent shot at knocking off those guys with black and yellow on their jerseys this week – assuming they accomplish a few tasks listed above. Winning this game is something the Browns must do, if they want to get away from being a “cellar dweller” in the AFC North. I think and believe the Browns can win this contest.