Five keys for Browns vs. Redskins

Posted by Vic Carucci on December 13, 2012 – 5:07 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Here are five keys for the Browns in Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins:

>>Prepare for the Redskins’ offense, not only the quarterback. The Redskins’ starting quarterback is uncertain, as rookie Robert Griffin III recovers from a sprained knee he suffered against Baltimore last week. Another rookie, Kirk Cousins, could get the start. Griffin’s exceptional mobility allows the Redskins to run option plays, something they would likely not be inclined to do with the less mobile Cousins. Still, the Browns need to focus on stopping all aspects of the offense, which will feature short and intermediate throws regardless of who plays quarterback. Even if Griffin starts, his injury would probably influence the Redskins to minimize his exposure to contact and go with fewer option plays.

>>Keep feeding the ball to Trent Richardson. The Browns put the bulk of their offense in the hands of the rookie running back, who leads them in rushing and receiving, and this game should be no different. Richardson might not make a whole lot of explosive plays, but he is productive. He grinds out the tough yards, especially near the goal line. He also does a nice job of catching screen passes and making himself a good check-down option for Brandon Weeden. That could be particularly helpful against the Redskins’ over-pursuing, highly aggressive defensive front.

>>Be stout against the run. The Browns’ defensive front learned the hard way about the importance of keeping gaps to a minimum after Jamaal Charles ran 80 yards for a touchdown on the Chiefs’ first play from scrimmage last week. This group will need to be as tight as possible from the very start, because the Redskins will place heavy emphasis on their running game. Rookie Alfred Morris has rushed for more than 1,200 yards, and with Griffin’s running contributions, the Redskins average 167.5 yards per game on the ground. But the Browns should have a chance to hold their own because of the frequent rotation of their defensive linemen.

>>Find success against the Redskins’ secondary. Brandon Weeden has a chance to put up some big numbers against the Redskins’ secondary, whose vulnerability has translated into the team ranking next-to-last in the league in passing yards allowed. Weeden also should have some time to operate in the pocket, considering the Browns have given up only 24 sacks and the Redskins have gotten the quarterback on the ground only 23 times.

>>Make more big plays in the return game. After Travis Benjamin’s 93-yard punt return for a touchdown against Kansas City last week, the Browns have put the NFL on notice that they have multiple game-breaking threats in the return game: Benjamin and Joshua Cribbs. Big returns could end up being the difference in the game, considering that the teams are pretty much equal when it comes to placekicking, punting, kick coverage, and turnover ratio.

>>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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If nothing else, it’s a fun team to watch

Posted by Vic Carucci on December 13, 2012 – 3:12 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:

Patrick – I have been saying this since Week 2: Brandon Weeden is the Browns’ quarterback for the future. His chemistry with Greg Little, Josh Gordon, and Josh Cooper is something you can’t just cast aside because he had a typical rookie QB year. People want new coaches and quarterbacks every year until we get to the Super Bowl. We need to let this cake bake. We go screwing with it now, then it’s back to rebuilding for three-five years. I have reason to honestly believe and hope that next year IS THE YEAR!

You make some valid points, Patrick.

Weeden seems to steadily establish himself as the Browns’ long-term solution at quarterback. His throwing ability stacks up with many other passers in the NFL. He has had plenty of production. And, yes, he is developing excellent chemistry with his young receiving corps.

True, Weeden has displayed some of the usual growing pains that rookie quarterbacks have. But he also has shown excellent resilience, bouncing back from bad plays to make big throws and lead scoring drives.

People are always seeking to replace quarterbacks and coaches when a team isn’t contending for the Super Bowl, and this season has been no different on that count. Still, when a club has won only five games, such talk is going to be heard. And although change can result in triggering yet another “rebuilding” process, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, especially with what appears to be a young, up-and-coming club.

Will the Browns, in fact, “let the cake bake?” We’ll see. The next three games could go a long way toward determining as much.

Johnny – Whether you like Brandon Weeden or not, one thing is for sure: the Browns’ games this year are actually watchable, and dare I say, at times, enjoyable! Bottom line here is that the Browns have been more fun to watch this year than I can remember in a long while. They show promise. I believe the Browns are finally headed in the right direction. Oh, and hey, don’t look now, but our defense is pretty damn good. Not even looking at stats or ranks, but just watching the game, they’re a pretty good squad.

This has become a very fun team to watch, Johnny.

And the improvement on offense is a large part of that, obviously. Weeden, Josh Gordon, Trent Richardson, and others are making plays that make the Browns’ offense exciting to watch.

The defense is good. It’s physical. It makes big stops. It makes big plays.

Your eyes do not deceive you.

Anthony – I think we can beat the Redskins. Their defense is horrible and ours is playing very well.

I feel good about Sunday’s game as well, Anthony.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the Redskins’ defense as “horrible.” Although the unit ranks near the bottom of the NFL in total and passing yards allowed, the Redskins do rank seventh against the run.

But I do think the Browns are capable of playing well enough defensively to give them a chance to win, as has been the case through the vast majority of the season.

>>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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