Five keys for Browns vs. Steelers

Posted by Vic Carucci on December 26, 2012 – 7:41 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Here are five keys for the Browns in Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers:

>>Finish the season as strong as possible. The fact that the Browns have several players injured and there are no playoff ramifications for either team is no excuse to merely go through the motions. The players taking the field for the Browns are being closely evaluated by the team’s hierarchy and must take advantage of the opportunity to make a final favorable impression.

>>Get something going on the ground. Although Trent Richardson is injured, the Browns still need to find a way to run successfully against the Steelers’ stout defensive front. It won’t be easy, but Montario Hardesty and Chris Ogbonnaya are capable of being an effective duo, and the offensive line can create sufficient holes.

>>Be efficient in the passing game. With Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy injured, Thaddeus Lewis could very well end up making his first NFL start. It would be unreasonable to expect Lewis to excel, especially against the complex fronts and coverages that Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is likely to employ. But if Lewis is able to avoid turnovers and manage the game well, the Browns’ offense has a chance for success. Lewis also has a strong arm and will need to make a few plays with it.

>>Generate a strong pass rush. One of the greatest challenges in facing Ben Roethlisberger is his ability to extend plays by moving around in the pocket. The Browns first must have good containment to prevent him from drifting too far to one side or the other, because that’s from where he tends to make his biggest throws. They also need Phil Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin, and the rest of their interior defensive linemen to get as much inside pressure as possible and consistently collapse the front of the pocket.

>>Maintain pass coverage for as long as possible. As banged up as the Browns are in their secondary, it will be difficult for them to effectively cover the pass. But the defensive backs who are playing must stick to receivers for extended periods because of Roethlisberger’s uncanny ability to buy time in the pocket. The slightest letdown can result in a big play.

>>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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