By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor
Here are five keys for the Browns in Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers:
>>Don’t be lulled into thinking Charlie Batch can’t succeed. Forget that Batch was a third on the quarterback depth chart behind injured Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich. Forget that Batch is 37 years old and in his 15th NFL season. There’s a reason he has been in the league this long, and it’s because he still knows how to make things happen under center. Batch will manage the game well, keep mistakes to a minimum and is capable of making a throw when the Steelers need it.
>>Continue to be stout against the run. The Browns did a superb job of stuffing the run against the Cowboys. It will be tougher to do the same against the Steelers, because they will likely be more persistent with their ground game, which is priority for offensive coordinator Todd Haley. The Steelers have big, physical runners, and the Browns need the middle of their defense – bolstered by last week’s return of tackle Ahtyba Rubin – to plug things up from the start and try and force Batch to throw as often as possible.
>>Play with more discipline in the secondary. With Joe Haden back from his injured oblique, the Browns’ secondary isn’t likely to struggle as much as it did against the Cowboys. Chances are his mere presence will help prevent the secondary from being penalized as much as it was in Dallas (a staggering seven times). But it is also imperative that the Browns’ defensive backs show better fundamental skills and avoid contact with receivers that will draw yellow flags.
>>Don’t let Dick LeBeau’s scheming get the better of Brandon Weeden. LeBeau is one of the very best defensive coordinators the game has ever seen, and his schemes have flustered the most experienced of quarterbacks. He no doubt is going to put together a plan that will try to take advantage of the fact Weeden has played all of 10 NFL games. But it will be critical for the Browns’ rookie quarterback to be as sharp as he has all season, paying close attention to what he is seeing across the line of scrimmage so that the Steelers’ exotic zone coverage/blitzing doesn’t fool him into making too many mistakes.
>>Get Trent Richardson rolling and remain persistent with the running game. Richardson had a solid game against the Cowboys, but he wasn’t as effective in the second half as he was in the first. The Browns need to make sure the Steelers’ defense gets a full dose of Richardson’s explosive running, and he must consistently hit the holes with authority and plow straight ahead.
>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.
>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/browns_daily, Twitter.com/viccarucci, e-mail: Daily@ClevelandBrowns.com, or by calling 855-363-2459.
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