Cleveland Browns offense versus Baltimore Ravens defense
In seven words or less, please describe your horror level of having to face the Ravens defense after what they did to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Gerberry: The only rightful death is by fire.
Gilbert: In the Browns offensive line we trust.
Josh: The Bengals’ offensive line sucks, it’s OK.
Bode: Might as well have a red balloon.
Scott: The reason for a nine-point spread.
Dave: The Bengals are terrible.
The Steelers controlled the middle of the line of scrimmage by using a variety of stunts. The Ravens run a similar system AND have Terrell Suggs on the outside. What does the Browns offensive line have to do to counter it?
Gerberry: They need a better running game and more cohesiveness from the offensive line. Week 1 was the first game that all the starters played together and it showed. While not an important as in the NBA, playing together and familiarity of your teammates is important when you play the line, and this unit will only get better as the season goes.
Gilbert: The Browns need to run the ball. They must get the run game going and give the Ravens a threat through the air and on the ground. Misdirection and play action will help beat the talented Ravens defense.
Josh: If the Browns offensive line and Isaiah Crowell play like they’re supposed to, they are experienced enough to be able to handle whatever the Ravens throw at them. JC Tretter, Shon Coleman, and Crowell all struggled in pass coverage in Week 1, we need to see some improvements from all three if they want DeShone Kizer to play all 16 games this season.
Bode: JC Tretter has to play better as he did not have a good first week with the Browns. Kevin Zeitler also will need to show he can play at a high level with a cast on his hand. Shon Coleman needs to show that the Browns were smart trusting the right tackle position to him. It was a bad first week for all three new starters (Zeitler due to injury) and communication is still likely an issue. Tons to clean up.
Scott: Much of this will come down to the running backs. Run the ball effectively when provided the opportunity; pick up the blitz when you’re in pass protection. Also, DeShone Kizer needs to throw the ball.
Dave: T-Sizzle won’t be a problem. He has been distracted by his cameos on Ballers. I think Duke Johnson and Seth DeValve will be used in screens and draws and we can keep them off balance.
DeShone Kizer was a mixed bag of good and bad in Week 1. What is the main thing he needs to focus on correcting before facing the Ravens defense?
Gerberry: Throw the ball away. Take a loss of down rather than a loss of yards. No less than 3 sacks from Week 1 could have been prevented if Kizer had just run out of bounds or thrown the ball to thje first row of seats. It’s something the rookie will learn, and will have to learn early on.
Gilbert: He must focus on getting the ball out. Throwing the ball away is not a bad thing. Taking a sack is. He must learn to live another day and not try to hold onto the last minute to search for viable targets. Get the ball out.
Josh: Don’t just look at one side of the field. It seemed as though at times throughout the opener, Kizer had a receiver open but never looked at his side of the field. Also, don’t rush even though your internal clock may be buzzing. The offensive line is (or at least should be) good enough to give Kizer time in the backfield, he can’t give up and scramble too quickly or else it messes everything up.
Bode: Most will probably mention his internal clock, but I’m going to go slightly tangent and say Kizer needs to work through his progressions quicker. Once he realizes those deep plays are not there he needs to flip to the intermediate and short routes at a quicker pace. He doesn’t need to become another Brady Quinn but he does need to learn to take five yards instead of a sack.
Scott: It’s a broken record here, but he can’t hold on to the ball. Seven sacks last week and what—two?—were the fault of the offensive line? He’s a rookie and this happens, but marry Mike’s thoughts on progressions with not holding on to the ball beyond the drop.
Dave: Don’t get yourself killed. Make quick progressions and throw it away. We’ve got a great punter…the punt protection however…nevermind, HOLD ONTO THE BALL
Besides Corey Coleman, what receiver do you expect the Browns to highlight in their packages this week?
Gerberry: Everyone is saying The Duke, but I’ll be contrarian: the Browns need to focus on Kenny Britt. After the signing in the offseason that made him the de facto No. 1 receiver, Britt had a weak Week 1, including the “inexcusable drop”. Giving him more targets will help him get into the flow of the offense and hopefully get him some plus yardage. It also shows them what they have in him and can answer this internal debate: either get him the ball or get him to the sidelines.
Gilbert: I think the Browns should highlight Duke Johnson, who lined up entirely at receiver on Sunday. He can be a real mismatch for linebackers to cover in the slot and create mismatches for the Browns. Besides Corey Coleman, I think Johnson has the most big play ability of the Browns pass catchers.
Josh: Duke Johnson. He could have potentially had a big game that included two touchdowns if it weren’t for overthrown passes by Kizer. He has the athleticism and speed to be a threat downfield, the Browns just have to find ways to use him that way.
Bode: I was surprised at how many snaps David Njoku received. He was in about as much as Seth DeValve and far more than Randall Telfer. One weakness the Ravens can have is their under coverage gets over aggressive. The Browns could use that to their advantage by attacking the intermediate space with Njoku.
Scott: Kenny Britt needs to step up, but I will take the bait and call for about eight targets thrown in the way of Duke Johnson to take advantage of the Baltimore blitz packages.
Dave: Kenny Britt will make a big splash this week. Hopefully he has gone to Hue and demanded the ball to make up for his sins last week. (don’t tell Freezing Cold Takes)
Cleveland Browns defense versus Baltimore Raven offense
Joe Flacco appeared to be stiff in the pocket as he recovers from a back injury. The Browns only hit Ben Roethlisberger twice last week. Should Gregg Williams focus on getting more of a pass rush or continue to play a game of allowing short gains?
Gerberry: While I would love to see some safety blitzes that highlight Jabrill “The Thrill” Peppers’ ability to get behind the line of scrimmage, keeping the top on the defense helped immensely in not allowing the Steelers from getting big swaths of yardage. It’s not going to be hard to find Flacco, we know he’s going to be in the pocket like a statue, just cover well and wear the offensive line down.
Gilbert: I would look to blitz more and create pressure on Joe Flacco. Without Myles Garrett, the Browns struggled to find a consistent pass rush. No one stepped up to be a pass rushing threat. So, I think the Browns should create some pressure with stunts and blitzes.
Josh: With a Browns defense that struggled so much in 2016 and without Myles Garrett, it may be best that Gregg Williams uses the “bend but don’t break” defense instead of trying to go after Flacco and allowing big plays at times because of it.
Bode: Nope. That double umbrella defense Gregg Williams deployed in Week 1 (first umbrella on short routes, second on deep) worked great with the athleticism we now have on our defense. Flacco did nothing to suggest he can pick apart our defense doing it. I would not mind a few packages that allow Peppers to get closer on the line and/or blitz, but overall I would run a similar scheme and challenge the four defensive lineman to create their own pressure.
Scott: I agree with everything Bode said. An immobile quarterback can be approached with the same scheme used in Week 1. Factor in that you don’t necessarily have the same threats from a play-making standpoint and I think the Browns defense has another shot at holding their own here.
One name to keep an eye out for: Michael Campanaro. With Danny Woodhead out, I’m looking at Campenaro to get the slot/flat looks. Same rules apply as Zo Taliaferro a few years back—you don’t get to be surprised if this kid breaks out.
Dave: The main focus of the Ravens offense for years has been the “pass interference” play. I assume they will keep doing that this week, so you might as well knock Flacco down.
Is the Browns run defense as good as it looked in Week 1 or was it a matter of Le’Veon Bell not being up to game speed?
Gerberry: Yes the first. They were able to bottle up the running game well, and it wasn’t just Le’Veon that was struggling. Eli Rogers is a decent back, and nobody was able to get space.
Gilbert: The Browns run defense was really good. The Steelers have a good offensive line and Le’Veon Bell is one of the top backs in the league, even though he missed training camp. The Browns shut the run game down. The Browns interior defensive line won the battle and did not give much ground against the Steelers blockers. I think the run defense is legit because I think Greg Williams makes it a focus for the defense. The players fly around and the entire defense closes to the ball.
Josh: Bell had trouble finding his groove after holding out all of the preseason, but something has to be said for what the Browns did to stop Pittsburgh’s ground attack. Getting to Flacco and into the Ravens’ backfield will be key on Sunday, which includes them being able to stop the run as well.
Bode: As noted, the Browns had a short umbrella in their defensive alignment. One of the benefits is it takes away the outside rushes. Now, that defense doesn’t work if the offense wins the middle of the field, which the Steelers did not. The Ravens have Marshall Yanda at guard but the Steelers are at least as good on the interior. Danny Shelton and crew need another week to show they can be as consistent against inside runs, but it was promising.
Scott: Can it be both? Good news is, no running backs on Baltimore have nearly the same talent level as Bell. Buck Allen could cause some issues on third downs, but that’ll be up to Gregg Williams to negate.
Dave: I don’t think they will hold every team to 35 yards, but I think they will be excellent against Terrence West.
Joe Schobert and Derrick Kindred were the surprise Week 1 heroes. Do they step up again or does someone else get a turn?
Gerberry: Schobert is the real deal. He was already winning the starting middle linebacker job from Tank Carder before Carder blew out his knee, and he has continued to impress as the preseason and Week 1 went on. Kindred could continue this play if the keep employing the umbrella defense, and playing next to Jabrill will only help.
Gilbert: I think Joe Schobert is for real. Coming out of college, his skill set fit best as a middle linebacker and he is showing it now. Derrick Kindred is a player I like and I loved what I saw from Kindred and I believe he has the talent to continue this level of play. But, I will still need to see both of these two do it over the course of the season and not in just a single game performance. Emmanuel Ogbah, time for you step up!
Josh: Schobert was all over the field in Week 1, it was awesome. It seems as though he’s legit. Honestly, a lot of players played very well on the Browns’ defense, some of it is their talent, some of it is how Gregg Williams used them. Here’s to hoping that it’s for real and wasn’t just a a one-week wonder.
Bode: Schobert popped off the screen- in a good way. Gilbert has been pimping him for a long time and he should be taking a victory lap for how well he predicted the Williams’ defense would fit him. Kindred also had a great game, so hopefully he can continue it. As noted above, I’m hoping Jabrill Peppers gets some packages so that he can highlight his athleticism this week.
Scott: Schobert has been a stud from the beginning of camp, so I see no reason that would slow down. Kindred could be a bit of a wild card, but it’s difficult to not see Gregg Williams simply finding the best ways to utilize all of his players. I’d love for Peppers to haul in an interception, but I’ll gladly settle for Carl Nassib or someone else getting to Flacco a few times.
Dave: I think you will continue to see young Browns players show themselves. I expect a pick from Downton Abbey (Briean Boddy-Calhoun)
Cleveland Browns outlook
What do the Browns need to do in order to obtain their first 2017 victory?
Gerberry: There has to be a better run game starting with Isaiah Crowell and Matthew Dayes if they are going to continue to NOT use Duke Johnson in the backfield. Jackson has said that was simply the game plan for Week 1 and it could be that he gets more run in games for the rest of the season, but the rush attack has to begin and end with The Crow. It keeps the pressure off Kizer to win games with his arm and keeps the defense off the field.
Gilbert: The Browns need to continue their strong defensive performance. But, the main factor in getting the team’s first win is establishing the run game. Do not put it all on Kizer’s back. Give him help by running the ball and making the defense have to account for a good run game. That opens up the passing lanes, especially downfield, Kizer’s strength.
Josh: Crowell must be able to find holes and be a threat in the run game. It will not only open the field for Kizer and the pass game but will also take some of the pressure off the rookie quarterback as well. Kizer must also be able to connect on the deep ball when it is open. He missed on a couple of those in the opener. Most of the time, the Browns would have no shot of beating the Ravens in Baltimore, this year seems different.
Bode: They will need some great fortune. The Ravens defense might be the best in the NFL. The Browns are still starting a rookie quarterback and an offensive line that is finding its way, plus a running back that looked downright bad in Week 1 (sorry, Isaiah Crowell was just not good). Still, if the defense can create a couple turnovers and Kizer can hit on some long passes, the team can keep it close enough that a good bounce or fortunate flag call late maybe swings the game. Maybe?
Scott: Be patient as it will come in Week 3 against the Colts. I’m thinking at least two scores being the gap in this one.
Dave: They need to play the exact game they played last week but without spotting the opposition a touchdown. There is no Antonio Brown on the Ravens.