Browns @ Ravens – Five Things to Earn a Win
Yet another tough loss last week for the orange and brown – the team clawed its way back only to witness a last second defeat. It will be difficult to shrug that off and prepare for the Ravens; but that is what they are paid to do. Should the team perform a couple of tasks, they might actually score the upset as well. Let’s delve further into what needs to be accomplished.
1 – Build off Last Week’s Improving Run Defense
I understand that the Browns’ defense surrendered a tremendous amount of yards through the air last contest. However, on the positive side – their run defense did not allow a 100-yard rusher for the first time in a while. Now is the opportunity to continue that trend against the Ravens. Granted the opponent will likely favor the run, but hopefully John Hughes, Danny Shelton, and Xavier Cooper can win at the point of attack and keep the opponent from scampering down the field. Doing so could help the visitors in this divisional matchup.
2 – Figure Out How to Pressure Joe Flacco
The Steelers of all teams pretty much laid out the blueprint – blitz Joe Flacco early and often. Now, they were relatively effective and kept the Ravens’ offense from lighting up the scoreboard. I do not know that I have the same faith in the Browns’ defensive front to get the opposing signal caller, but they must attempt to bring him down. Whether it’s a new scheme or using different guys, the Browns have got to find a way to earn multiple sacks this week.
3 – Continue to Utilize the Running Backs Correctly
It was a welcomed sight to finally see both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson each display exceptional rushing and receiving ability last week. Putting them in spots to catch and run seems very obvious, but it took four weeks for that to finally happen on the field. Do I expect to see that every week? No, but those dump offs on third down conversions should be a staple of this offense. Beating a team like the Ravens requires doing the little things – like earning the tough yards; Crowell and Johnson have it in them.
4 – Gary Barnidge = Wildcard
However it’s working, the tight end for the Browns has found the magical elixir to have a solid year in the NFL. I hope he continues to keep this up – but could be facing (dare I sat it) double coverage going forward. Opponents have corralled Travis Benjamin a bit since his breakout games to start the season. Expect something similar to this happening to Barnidge, as he has hurt opponents in the passing game. Until that point occurs however, the Browns must utilize the dependable weapon on their offense.
5 – Eliminate the Mistakes
Twelve penalties simply are not going to cut it for this team. Until they can overcome this with a top five offense or by forcing multiple turnovers – penalties will likely lead to losses for the Cleveland Browns. It is extremely frustrating to witness this on a weekly basis – some blame coaching, but Mike Pettine and his staff can only do so much (then it’s up to the players and their mistakes). The athletes have to be smarter and use their heads as opposed to being over-aggressive. The time is now to put those “words into action”.
Conclusion: I really want to see the Browns come out and beat their hated rivals in this contest, but I just don’t see it happening. In terms of the five requirements to a victory, I can realistically envision two to three coming to fruition. However that will likely not be enough for the orange and brown.