Ways to Top the Dirty Birds

A Few Tactics Towards Getting Another Crucial Victory

Now comes the final six-game stretch of the 2014 regular season.  The Cleveland Browns travel south to face an up-and-down team that is very talented.  Like most away games, the focus has to be there for sixty
minutes – while keeping mistakes at a minimum.  In order to score the win, the guests must ensure several things fall their way; let’s take a peek into those…

#1 – Work in #12 at a Reasonable Level

I am in agreement with Ray Farmer’s philosophy.  In that, just because Josh Gordon is returning to this contest – does not mean Brian Hoyer has to force the football to the veteran because he has missed time.  On some plays he will be the primary target, while others he could be the fourth option (or even a decoy).  There’s no doubt he can, and will, make eye-opening plays for this offense in 2014 and going
forward.  But with this being his first game back, I like Kyle Shanahan spreading around the opportunities.

#2 – Play to the Opponent’s Weakness

As of last week, the Falcons were the friendliest team in terms of stopping the pass.  While the visiting team prefers running the ball – Hoyer and company must take what the defense gives them.  This includes key third down attempts and critical red zone opportunities.  I believe with a nearly full complement of offensive weapons, the Browns can flex their muscles in the Georgia Dome.

#3 – Game Plan for the Opponent’s Strength

On the other side of the coin, the Browns’ opposition was ranked seventh (as of a week ago) in total passing yards per game.  Despite their poor record, they still feature Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Roddy White.  While Joe Haden, Buster Skrine, and Tashaun Gipson have been stellar against the pass – this week’s matchup is a difficult one.  Coaches Pettine and O’Neil must emphasize not surrendering the “big play” all contest long.  I believe the Browns’ secondary is up to the challenge – but can they force Ryan into a huge mistake?

#4 – Keep the Dome Quiet

For the first, and possibly the only, time this season the Cleveland Browns are playing a contest indoors.  Much like the Super Dome or the Metro Dome of last year – sound emanates well when the home team succeeds.  Ultimately, the Falcons will make plays and score points, but the visitors must make sure this is not a regular occurrence.  The offense does not need another distraction, but I have a great deal of confidence that they can still be efficient in a hostile environment.

#5 – Beware the Returner

Earlier this campaign, Devin Hester broke Deion Sanders’s record for most career return touchdowns.  Despite being his ninth season in the NFL, the former Miami Hurricane can still make opponents pay.  Therefore, Chris Tabor must be smart in devising coverage schemes for both punt and kickoff.  Should this be a tight contest late, I worry about the difference maker the opponent has.  I would not be surprised to get some targets on offense as well.

Conclusion:  I envision this contest going either way; the home squad could come out and take care of business, or the positive momentum of the guest can continue.  Surprisingly (to some), I would want Brian
Hoyer at the end of this contest over Matt Ryan.  Will he, along with the orange and brown, be on the field to secure a victory?  I am anxious to find out!

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