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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