Jackson main reason Browns can’t take any comfort in facing 1-7 Rams

Posted by Vic Carucci on November 9, 2011 – 9:25 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

At first glance, it might be tempting to assume that the Browns finally get a little bit of a break with the St. Louis Rams coming to town Sunday.

After all, the Rams are 1-7, which, in fact, gives them a worse season than the Browns’ 3-5 start. Last Sunday, the Rams suffered a 19-13 loss to the 2-6 Arizona Cardinals.

But assuming the Rams are just the sort of opponent the Browns need after back-to-back road losses to two of the NFL’s better teams – the 49ers, who mostly manhandled the Browns, and Texans, who flat-out crushed them – has the potential to be a very big mistake.

Number one, the Browns aren’t playing well enough in any area to be thinking they could consider a game against any team a “get-well” opportunity.

Number two, in Week 8, the Rams scored a stunning, 31-21 triumph over the 6-3 New Orleans Saints.

Number three, the Rams have at least one element to their offense that could very well give fits to the Browns’ defense. And that element’s name is Steven Jackson, who ran for 159 yards against the Saints and 130 yards against the Cardinals.

Those aren’t exactly encouraging numbers for a defense that gave up a staggering 261 rushing yards against the Texans – that allowed two backs to rush for more than 100 yards and one, Ben Tate, to average 9.6 yards per carry.

That would be the same defense that gave up 174 yards on the ground a week earlier at San Francisco – 134 of them by Frank Gore.

The Rams’ quarterback, Sam Bradford, was the 2010 Rookie of the Year. Pat Shurmur, the Browns’ coach, was his offensive coordinator. And Bradford returned from an injury to have a solid game against Arizona. With the help of a strong running game, he could end up enjoying the same comfort that the last two quarterbacks who faced the Browns – Matt Schaub and Alex Smith – enjoyed.

The Rams also have seen some better defensive play the past two weeks. They’ve been getting good pressure on the quarterback, especially from end Chris long, and that doesn’t bode well for Colt McCoy. McCoy has spent a good portion of this season running for his life; the Texans sacked him four times.

One of the major problems the Rams could end up presenting to the Browns is their ability to generate most of their pass rush from their front four. As a result, they’re able to keep a maximum number of defenders in coverage and significantly reduce throwing windows for McCoy.

Oh, and one more thing while perusing the NFL stat sheet: Although Browns’ 31st-ranked rushing offense might take comfort in knowing the Rams have the 32nd-ranked run defense, they managed to hold the Cardinals to a mere 70 yards on the ground (including 20 by their featured running back, Beanie Wells).

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