Browns @ Buccaneers – Five Things to Look for
It’s hard to believe, but the third preseason game is finally here. This is the point where the “real” Browns will be on display – as the starters ought to participate a majority of this contest. The team finally hits the road to sunny Florida to face the league’s worst team in 2014. Continued improvement is what this franchise is striving for; I would like to believe that will occur on Saturday night. Let’s delve further into what the supporters of the orange and brown want to see on the gridiron.
#1 – Keep Jameis Looking Like a Rookie
Odds are that Jameis Winston will pick up the professional game, but the Browns must make sure it is not against them. The coaching staff should mask coverage schemes and alter their rushes to fool the signal caller. Granted, Jim O’Neil will not be going as all-out as he would for a regular season game – he still should make sure his guys are prepared to make life difficult for guys under center.
#2 – Proving the Defense’s Worth
The Buccaneers do not have the greatest offensive line and running game in the NFL. That said, the Browns must reinforce that on the field this Saturday. Stopping the run has been an issue for the orange and brown since returning to the league in 1999. However, this contest can be an excellent spot to finally show some attitude and swagger that they are going to win in the trenches. I expect the ends to step up (especially Bryant and Starks), and if Scott Solomon can up his game – we might have something worthwhile here.
#3 – Carving out their Niches
This refers primarily to the wide receivers for the Cleveland offense. What should the team expect to get from Dwayne Bowe and Terrelle Pryor going forward? Will they be used down the field or should fans expect the duo to run underneath routes? I know what Brian Hartline and Taylor Gabriel bring to the table, but this unit has many moving parts. However John DeFilippo decides to utilize this group – it ultimately comes down to consistent execution.
#4 – Solidify the Five Upfront
It would appear that the Browns’ starting offensive line will be identical to the group that started the 2014 campaign. The top reserve looks to be Cameron Erving; I appreciate that he can fill in at any of the spots, but I would like to see him used only at a spot or two (either guard or center). Can Michael Bowie make this final roster? I had high hopes for him before training camp started, but he has been far from impressive. I want to see him get his act together and secure his spot with this franchise.
#5 – Win the Turnover Margin
The first two preseason contests included personnel not expected to be seen together in the regular season, and it’s therefore difficult to determine whether the defense is forcing turnovers or the offense simply is not on the same page to avoid mistakes. However, in this game the Browns are anticipated to face the first unit of the Buccaneers for at least one half. I want to see sacks, forced fumbles, and an interception or two from this opportunistic unit. That may be a lot to ask, but going against an offense that is perceived to be a poor one – the defense must dominate.