Five keys for Browns vs. Raiders

Posted by Vic Carucci on November 29, 2012 – 3:19 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Here are five keys for the Browns in Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders:

>>Jump out to an early lead. The common thread in the Raiders’ lopsided losses in their last three games is opponents building early big advantages and Oakland being unable to rally. For instance, last week the Bengals took a 24-0 halftime lead on the way to a 34-10 triumph. If the Browns are to end their 12-game road losing streak, they need to take an aggressive, first-strike approach.

>>Put together another physical, attack-oriented defensive performance. The Browns beat the Steelers last week and nearly beat the Cowboys in Week 11 because of the dominance of their front seven. They absolutely pounded the Steelers to the tune of five forced fumbles (among the eight turnovers they caused). And they sacked Dallas quarterback Tony Romo seven times. The Browns should be able to turn up the heat on Carson Palmer, who was sacked four times last week. Another reason for them to do all they can to rattle Palmer is the fact he has thrown an interception in seven consecutive games.

>>Continue to stuff the run. The Browns have played the run exceptionally well the past two weeks. They need to continue the trend against the Raiders, who are getting No. 1 running back Darren McFadden back from an injury and have a talented reserve in Marcel Reece. The Raiders are likely to use both players extensively as runners and receivers. Browns defensive tackles Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor have to maintain their disruptive ways in the middle of the defense, and that should help talented end Jabaal Sheard and standout linebacker D’Qwell Jackson to have an impact.

>>Don’t allow the Raiders to get anything going through the air. The return of cornerback Joe Haden last week from an oblique injury made a massive difference for the Browns’ defense. He was a big part of the tight coverage that helped result in the Steelers’ Charlie Batch throwing three interceptions. Haden should be up to the task of keeping wide receiver Denarius Moore, who is a dangerous deep threat, in check. The Browns need to do the same against Darrius Heyward-Bey, another big-play receiver, and tight end Brandon Myers, who is Palmer’s go-to target.

>>Get long gains on the ground. The Raiders do an effective job of clogging the middle of the line, but they’ve had issues preventing chunk plays against the run. That should present an opportunity for Trent Richardson to rip off some long runs, something he is capable of doing every time the ball is in his hands. And the ball is in his hands a lot; he has averaged nearly 31 touches per game in his last four games.

>>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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Playing hard, physical not new for Browns

Posted by Vic Carucci on November 29, 2012 – 12:03 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:

Norma – They need to play that hard and physical all the time. The coach has to have fire in the belly and not stand back and be so passive.

Norma, I think the Browns actually have played as hard and as physical against other opponents as they did against the Steelers.

In fact, one of their stronger efforts and more physical games came at Pittsburgh last season. Remember that impressive goal-line stand? You can’t get much more physical than that.

As for the coach needing to have a fire in his belly, I couldn’t disagree more. Pat Shurmur is extremely fiery and far from passive. Although he might not always show a tremendous amount of emotion on the sidelines or during news conferences, he is every bit as passionate about his job and his team as anyone connected with the Browns.

Frankly, I think it’s a plus that he maintains a fairly even keel most of the time. That tends to help in the many decisions that coaches face during a game.

Josh – I’m still jacked out of my mind about the win. I say win out, show some heart; 8-8 is a huge building block for such a very young team.

Love the way you’re thinking, Josh.

Winning out would be a tremendous way for the Browns to end the season. Is it possible? Anything’s possible. Is it likely? Who knows?

The schedule offers some significant challenges, especially with three of the final five games on the road, beginning Sunday at Oakland and including back-to-back games at Denver and Pittsburgh to end the year.

But I would disagree with your point about winning out being an indication of the Browns showing “some heart.” I think this team has shown heart all season, and, despite a losing record, has competed at a high level through the vast majority of its games.

Robby – Steeler fan here, congrats on the win. YINZ deserve it. Just don’t ever do it again!

Thanks, Robby. We truly appreciate it.

Your final comment is being ignored, of course.

Scotty – I think Brandon Weeden will be fine as the Browns’ quarterback. The games are at least fun to watch now, much better than it was last year.

I agree, Scotty.

Weeden will be fine. He’s a talented player who has had his share of ups and downs, but that’s typical of what you see in a rookie quarterback. The same can be said for Andrew Luck and other rookie quarterbacks from the present and the past.

You’re also right about Browns games being fun to watch, and that is largely due to an offense that is capable of generating more big plays through the air. Weeden’s arm allows for that, along with the dynamic skills of running back Trent Richardson and of wide receiver Josh Gordon.

Even on a day when the Browns were far from explosive offensively, they still managed to generate 20 points against a Steelers defense that entered last week’s game ranked first in the NFL.

>>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/viccarucci or by e-mail at daily@clevelandbrowns.com or by calling 855-363-2459.


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