Wow, so here we are. Last week’s post was centered on “what it’s going to take for the Browns to avoid getting embarrassed” by the Giants. One 35-14 Eli-drubbing later, the Browns might just have a new season on their hands.
The Browns sit at 2-3, and travel to Washington where the Redskins are most likely angry after losing a trap game against the previously-winless Rams. The Browns have had a short week to prepare. So, have the Browns turned a corner? Was Monday night a fluke? Will they, much like last year, think they are now better than they really are? Without further ado…
The Browns Will Win If…
Craig: …they win the turnover battle. I could spend all day asking what-if questions about the offense and which Browns team will show up. I am going to simplify my answer and say that the Browns need to win the turnover battle. This means that Derek Anderson can’t turn the ball over and that the Browns defense needs to stand tall and create mistakes like they did against the Giants.
Scott: …they win the time of possession battle. We’ll be facing one of the better running backs in the league; if the Skins pull to an early lead, nothing will stop them from running the ball for the rest of the game. We have to force them to play our game, as we did against the Giants. Force the opposition to throw the ball into traffic while showing several defensive schemes. The possibility of having Sean Jones back is huge for this team and will be that much better if he can play along side Brodney Pool. I would love to be the first team to intercept a Jason Campbell pass, and I don’t think it’s too far-fetched at this point.
DP: …the same team shows up from Monday night with the same collective chip on their shoulders. They can ill afford to revisit games from last year where they came out fat-headed because of previous games’ performances, and get behind early. The offensive line needs to play well again, both opening the running game up and also protecting Anderson the same way they did on Monday night. Lewis is going to be very important in the time-of-possession battle. Braylon needs to come out and play like he did on Monday, which means actually CATCHING THE BALL. It would be crazy to think the Browns will not have to punt for a second game in a row, but if Chud can again creatively work Cribbs and Harrison into the offense to keep the Redskins’ defense off-balance, that will go a long way to helping the offense pick up where they left off on Monday night. Also, not committing 764 false-start penalties would be nice, if only for my blood-pressure. Defensively, despite what the scoreboard said on Monday, the Giants’ offense moved the ball fairly well against Cleveland. Brandon Jacobs could have had a huge night had the Giants not been playing from behind the entire second half. Clinton Portis presents an identical challenge. The difference is that Eli Manning made several mistakes on Monday night, and thus far Jason Campbell has been playing totally mistake-free football. Shaun Rogers will be key against the run. The Browns need to try to get a lead, to force the Skins to pass more, to then get to Campbell, and to cause him to turn the ball over. Mainly, though, the Browns need to come out hungry and not complacent in order to win this game.
RockKing: …There’s no MNF hangover. It’s going to be tough playing with the same focus and energy on the road against one of the NFC’s best teams as they did at home in front of an electric crowd on Monday night. But if the Brown’s are to win, that’s precisely what they must do. Furthermore, the Browns must make Jason Campbell beat them. The Redskins offense is pretty good all around, but they are 17th in passing compared to 3rd in rushing. Clinton Portis hasn’t practiced this week, but it seems to be more cautionary than anything else. Portis is listed as probable and Jim Zorn says he’s going to play, so the Browns must do everything they can to stop the ‘Skins from controlling the game on the ground. On offense, the Redskins will be tougher to run on than the Giants were, so DA must show up again and play at close to the same level as he did last week. Using the pass to open up the rushing game for Jamal Lewis will be the key on offense. If the Browns come in and try to beat the Redskins at their own game by pounding the football down their throats, it could be an ugly game for Cleveland.
Mike: …Derek Anderson can maintain the momentum built based on his Monday night performance. While talented, Washington’s DB’s can be inconsistent at times and tend to take some unnecessary chances…looking right at you Carlos Rogers. I expect Jamal Lewis to keep getting plenty of carries and that will be essential to keep the defense honest for Anderson’s sake. On defense, the young DB’s will have to stay on their toes like a midget at a urinal if they want to keep up with the speedy Santana Moss and Antwaan Randel-El. Oh, did I mention Clinton Portis yet? Well, considering the year he’s having and the year the run defense (once again) is having, we should expect to hear his name often. Can you say “shootout!”? Browns 34 – Redskins 31
Rick: …as mentioned before, they can stop the run. I appreciate that Andra Davis took a paycut to stay with the team. He has a great attitude towards football and life, but he is hurting us on the field. He can’t shed blocks. When we last saw him he was getting drug into the end zone by Brandon Jacobs. But as bad as Davis was….where the heck was Wimbley? Don’t look for him on the stat sheet, he isn’t there. No tackles. Zero. If we don’t get better LB play the Redskins will keep pounding the ball on the ground, something the Giants forgot to do when they got int the red zone last week. On offense the Browns must continue to mix things up, and get Donte Stallworth more involved this week.
Now, we all know that none of us really thought the Browns would hang around with the Giants on Monday, let alone beat them by 21. With that in mind, we thought it might make things interesting to broaden the discussion each week in an effort to see how fans of other teams around the league view the Browns. We all know how we feel, and we often place our home-grown cynicism at the forefront when writing about our Browns. So, beginning this week and hopefully continuing through the rest of the season, we’ve invited some guest bloggers to weigh in on this game from the other side of the field. Without further ado…
The Redskins will Win If…
Hog Heaven is the home of thoughtful analysis about the Washington Redskins and the NFL. Anthony Brown is a die-hard Redskins fan and forty-four season ticket holder who never coached and never played, but knows what he sees when he sees it.
…the offense continues to confuse opposing defenses. The Browns are confronted by almost perfect balance by the Redskins. Washington runs a shade under 51 percent of the time, scoring six touchdowns on the ground and seven by air. Opponents are accustomed to Clinton Portis running. They usually stack the box to stop him, reacting to the passing game. The West Coast Offense was imported to open the passing game. Jim Zorn doesn’t ask much of Jason Campbell at quarterback except accuracy, not distance, and to avoid turnovers. Campbell has done that to find success in the air. It’s also opened running opportunities for Portis. The Redskins offensive line is healthier than last season. It shows on the field. They will need to be to avoid the pressure Cleveland brought on New York last Monday.
David Wagner is an editor at MIT’s Sloan Management Review as well as lead writer at Riggo’s Rag, a member of the Fan-Sided Network.
…if Kellen Winslow’s balls are still swollen. No, actually, the Redskins will win if their secondary is healthy on Sunday. Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot are both on the injury list with nagging injuries to the calf and groin respectively. Springs is especially important to the Skins defense because he usually covers the opposing team’s big receiver. Without Springs being 100%, Braylon Edwards is likely to have a very big day. On offense, the Redskins will win if Clinton Portis continues his excellent run that has seen him break the century mark for three straight games. He is leading the league in rushing and the Browns are 25th in the league against the run. The 3-4 defense is not especially good against the run anyway, and if you can succeed at wearing down excellent DT Shaun Rogers, the Browns are vulnerable to power running away from Willie McGinnest. This will put pressure on the Skins to run to the right over Jansen and Thomas rather than Samuels and Kendall which is our preference. During the passing game, the Redskins will need to respect the pass rush of Kamerion Wimbley but the Browns lack another pass rushing LB which is what makes the 3-4 so potent. As such, if we get the blocking right, there won’t be too many surprises. But this will be one of the rare 3-4 defense we will face so the Redskins will likely struggle with protecting the passer on deep routes. Look for Portis who is an excellent blocker to have to pick up the slack. On defense the Redskins should be able to win if healthy. Jamal Lewis is the kind of back we can stop. He is a straight away runner that can’t get outside on us. London Fletcher should have a great day. This is also one of the rare instances where a team cannot exploit our real weakness which is covering the RB out of the backfield. In the passing game, Edwards will be a monster, and it is not a question of shutting him down, simply slowing him down. The Browns offense makes few mistakes and despite their poor record, this team has a positive turnover ratio. It is important we protect the ball and take advantage of any chances we do get. In other words, to win, the Redskins simply need to show up healthy, execute, and win a good, close game with their superior talent on defense and great running game. And we should- 24-17.
Ben Folsom is a lifetime Redskins fan and writes The Curly R, now in its third year of NFL coverage. Ben lives in Alexandria, VA, where he maintains a large collection of vague references to movies and comic books.
…if they come to play, they are the better team overall right now. Offensively for Washington the line is pushing opponents around in the running game and Clinton Portis is running stronger than he has in the past two years. Though pass blocking is still a question, quarterback Jason Campbell is surfing the Jim Zorn barrel, stepping through his progressions and not making mistakes. Despite a lack of production from the rookie receivers Jason has plenty of targets. Washington’s defense has been dominant, installing the right game plan for every opponent, Carlos Rogers will be giving Braylon Edwards the blanket treatment this week. Although the Redskins defense does not get to the passer often, tight coverage is forcing opposing quarterbacks into bad decisions. The Browns were at the top of their game last week, Derek Anderson played like a man one more poor outing from a benching. Cleveland will have to capture that intensity again this week, on the road, and the Redskins will have to sink themselves with turnovers and mistakes for the Browns to win. The Redskins do not disappoint two weeks in a row.
What does everyone else think?