Browns can’t afford to take Batch lightly

Posted by Vic Carucci on November 24, 2012 – 12:05 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

You’ve got questions and comments that you submit to the Browns’ official Facebook and Twitter pages. Here’s what I have to say about what you have to say:

Greg – It is not possible for the Browns to lose to the Steelers and their third-string quarterback, right? Please somebody assure me. Please!

I would love to assure you that the Browns will win the game, Greg, but I’m not going to do that.

The fact the Steelers don’t have their starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, is an obvious plus for the Steelers. The fact that they don’t have their second-stringer, Byron Leftwich, who nearly led them to a win against Baltimore last week, would figure to be a benefit to the Browns as well.

But the fact Charlie Batch, Pittsburgh’s No. 3 quarterback, is starting Sunday is no reason to believe the Browns should be guaranteed a victory.

The Steelers still have the NFL’s top-ranked defense and No. 1 defense against the pass. They still are capable of putting together a physical rushing attack. And, despite being 37 years old and in his 15th NFL season, Batch is still capable of performing well enough to lead the Steelers to a victory.

There is reason he still has a spot on an NFL roster, and it is largely because he is an intelligent and efficient quarterback. Batch will likely manage the game well and avoid mistakes.

Nevertheless, the Browns’ defense needs to do exactly what it did against the Cowboys last week and stuff the run and force the Steelers to be one-dimensional. And with Joe Haden back in the lineup, I don’t anticipate that the Browns will have the same problems in their secondary, drawing seven penalties and allowing more than 300 yards through the air, they had at Dallas.

The bottom line is that Browns have absolutely no reason to take Batch or the rest of the Steelers lightly. A 2-8 record does not permit them to do that.

Jim – What the Browns need to do is isolate Steelers linebacker James Harrison on a back or tight end in coverage. He is slow, really slow.

Your observation is right on, Jim.

I think one of the Browns’ biggest keys offensively is to use screens and other short/intermediate passes as often as possible to create one-on-one matchups between Trent Richardson and Harrison. The screen game, if effective enough, should also help loosen things up for the Browns’ rushing attack.

As always, I want to see the Browns stay persistent with the run even if they don’t have early success. They need to maintain some level of offensive balance, and rely on Richardson to help set a physical tone.

But I also can see the Browns taking advantage of the Steelers’ aggressive blitzing with Brandon Weeden connecting with his receivers and tight ends with quick throws.

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