Five keys for Browns vs. Chiefs

Posted by Vic Carucci on December 6, 2012 – 5:39 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Here are five keys for the Browns in Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs:

>>Pounce on the Chiefs early. The Chiefs were driven by emotion, stemming from the murder-suicide involving linebacker Jovan Belcher, in last Sunday’s win against Carolina. They no doubt will try and use those raw feelings to their advantage for the second week in a row, which makes it imperative for the Browns to strike quickly. The Browns need to seize any opportunity to get into the end zone right away, and not squander red-zone chances as they did against Oakland last week. They simply can’t give the Chiefs any semblance of confidence.

>>Win the turnover battle. The Browns have done an excellent job of taking care of the ball, with a plus-seven turnover ratio. The Chiefs? They’ve done exactly the opposite, losing the ball a league-high 32 times (16 interceptions, 16 fumbles) on the way to a minus-21 turnover differential. The math suggests the Browns should have a clear advantage, although the Chiefs had no turnovers (and only one penalty) against the Panthers. Although Brandon Weeden broke his own club rookie record with 364 passing yards against Oakland, he did throw a pair of interceptions. He must play a much cleaner game.

>>Run the ball effectively. The best part of the Chiefs’ defense is the aggressive pass rushing of outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. The best way for the Browns to slow them down is to have success on the ground with workhorse Trent Richardson, on pace for a 1,000-yard season, and change-up option Montario Hardesty. Richardson, who has dealt with sore ribs, seems to be increasingly comfortable running between the tackles. Hardesty has emerged as an explosive force that is good for a long burst whenever he gets the ball in his hands. The Browns must be persistent with their rushing attack, as they’ve been in their past two games.

>>Shut down running backs Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hills. Chiefs offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will try and be relentless with the run. He’ll keep feeding the ball to Charles and Hillis until the Browns demonstrate they can stop them. Defensive tackles Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin will need to continue to show the dominance they’ve shown since both returned to the lineup healthy. If so, middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson should keep thriving. Safety T.J. Ward figures to be heavily involved in run support, along with Usama Young, who returns from a concussion.

>>Don’t allow Brady Quinn to get a hot hand. Quinn, a former Browns quarterback, had what might very well have been the best game of his career against the Panthers when he completed 19 of 23 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns without throwing an interception. The Browns need to discourage him from the start with a strong pass rush and tight coverage. Left cornerback Joe Haden essentially took away half of the field from Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer last week, and that helped 11th-year right cornerback Sheldon Brown to make the most of his experience in making a decisive interception and knocking down multiple passes.

>>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.


Posted in Carucci's Call | Comments Off

Browns consistent at giving best effort

Posted by Vic Carucci on December 6, 2012 – 3:40 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:

Ben – Yup, very proud of the Browns. Not that many wins, but they have been in every game this year. That’s a step in the right direction.

It is, Ben.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say they are emerging as a team that other teams are likely less than enthusiastic about facing. The Browns have been pretty consistent at giving every opponent their best for the full game.

It starts with a defense that keeps the opposition out of the end zone, hits exceptionally hard, and makes big plays.

It continues with a running back, Trent Richardson, who has scored eight touchdowns and is on pace for 1,000 yards, and a passing attack that is steadily finding its game-breaking groove, and mostly sound and reliable special teams.

The Browns aren’t playing as a club that has lost twice as many games as it has won. They’re playing as one that has won four of its last seven games and three of its last five.

They’re playing with a sense of momentum, and not merely because they’ve won their last two games but also because of how well they’ve competed in previous outings – even losses, such as the one in overtime at Dallas.

Mark – Golden opportunity to make it three in a row against the Chiefs. Keep it going Browns!!

Agreed, Mark.

There is no denying that things have set up nicely, with a 2-10 opponent coming to Cleveland Browns Stadium Sunday.

But the Browns cannot, under any circumstances, afford to treat it as a given. They must avoid the sort of mistakes, such as red-zone interceptions, that helped keep them from generating more points in last Sunday’s win at Oakland.

The Browns have to play clean, something that tends to be exceptionally difficult for a roster loaded with so many young players.

Chance – I’m going to the game Sunday. Pretty funny that Peyton Hillis and Brady Quinn will both be back in Cleveland playing against Cleveland.

Definitely adds some spice, along with the fact that the Chiefs also have former Browns in coach Romeo Crennel and Brian Daboll.

I’m not sure what sort of impact it will have, if any. All four could arrive with a sense of wanting to demonstrate that the Browns were wrong to let them go.

But this is such a different Browns organization, beginning with a new owner, than the one most of them knew when they were in Cleveland. The exception could be Hillis, because he was with the Browns last season.

Yet, even he doesn’t know many of the new faces that will be wearing brown and orange on Sunday.

>>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.


Posted in Carucci's Call | Comments Off