April 24, 2014

The Browns Will Win If…

Here’s hoping that some time off has helped me to rediscover the ability to write leads for this column. What am I saying? It’s a new season! Hope springs eternal! The slate is clean, the records are all even at 0-0 (well, except for Pittsburgh and Tennessee)!


The Browns are again rebooting the system with their fourth coaching regime in 11 seasons, and have cleaned house all the way through the front office as well. We’re led to believe that this is finally Brady Quinn’s team, but what exactly does that mean? We’re led to believe that the defense was “vanilla” in the pre-season, and without Shaun Rogers it is definitely not the defense we should see on Sunday with the Big Fella back in there. Will this new regime be able to make in-game adjustments? Will they put the best players on the field as opposed to the most loyal? Will Mangini revert to the patented Romeo blank stare if things go badly early? Without further ado…

The Browns Will Win If…

Craig: …they can win the battle with their defensive line.  Shaun Rogers and company are the key to the rest of the defense and the Browns are going to need to find a way to stop the Vikings offense.  (Duh, right?) Anyway, Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor, Percy Harvin and yes, Brett Favre are just a few of the pieces that will challenge the Browns’ defense all day.

Scott: …they win the turnover battle. The only way this team will be able to remain in games is by playing smart football. With Quinn under center, we should have less of a chance of witnessing the bombs into triple-coverage. That’s a start. Now if they can amass any sort of run game, holding on to the football is crucial taunt. The short slants to Edwards or Cribbs/Massaquoi? Keep the passes in front so we don’t have deflections off of shoulder pads. And on the other end, Brett Favre should be good for at least one interception. As bad as our receiving corps is, the Vikes aren’t any better. If we can somehow stay on top of the turnover count, we have a chance to win our first home opener since Lincoln.

DP: …they can stop the run in some form, get the defense off the field on third down, and string some first downs together on offense. I’ve been to two games in my memory against San Diego and Baltimore where LT and Jamal Lewis both cracked 200+, and they were both long days. If the Browns want to have any chance at winning this game, they’ll need to hold Adrian Peterson and Co. to a reasonable total. Here’s hoping that adding Shaun Rogers back to the middle of the D-line will help in that capacity. The Browns have to stiffen up and get off the field on third down on defense, which has always been their Achilles heel. Beyond that, the Quinn-led (supposedly) offense needs to string some first downs together—it doesn’t matter how, though it would be nice to see some manner of a successful running offense—to let the defense rest a bit. I honestly have no expectations for Sunday. That way they won’t disappoint me. I feel like the Browns have to play nearly perfectly to beat the Vikes.

Rick: …they win the turnover and big play tallies. We know the Vikings are going to run the ball, and they will have some success at it. IF they can limit big runs by Peterson, plus cause a few turnovers then they certainly will be in position to win. Special teams could play a huge role in the outcome of this one as well. I don’t see the Browns being able to drive the length of the field on Minny’s defense with any consistency, so they will need good returns. I wouldn’t predict a Browns win this week, but I would sure take one! Go Browns!

RockKing …they can keep Adrian Peterson under 80 yards rushing. It’s hard to pick just one thing that must happen in order for the Browns to win this game, but keeping AP under control seems to me to be the biggest task for the Browns to achieve if they want any hope of actually winning this game. If Peterson rushes for over 100 yards in this one, there’s no way I see the Browns winning this game, because I don’t believe the Browns’ offense will be able to score enough on the Vikings defense to overcome the time of possession loss that comes with having a 100 yard rusher. But if the Browns can make Brett Favre have to beat them, well, then there’s always a chance Favre will be rusty or will throw a bad interception or something along those lines.

TD …The moon and the stars are all aligned. The reality here is the Vikings are superior in pretty much every aspect of the game. Except one – the special teams. If the Browns somehow can pull this one off, it will be because Josh Cribbs returns either a kick or a punt for a TD, or another major special teams play (i.e. blocked punt) occurs. Defensively, Shaun Rogers has to plug the holes and help slow RB Adrian Peterson. Brett Favre’s arm doesn’t scare me one bit, but Peterson’s legs certainly do. On the offense side, QB Brady Quinn must limit his mistakes.

Denny … If the defense can muster anything.  Regardless of Brit Farr’s ability to sling the rock and hilariously lead his buddies into giant puddles while wearing Wrangler jeans, the Vikings can run all over the field.  Between AD and Percy Harvin the Browns defense will be tested by (speed + athleticism)^max.  Getting any sort of containment on these two and forcing the Vikings to pass the ball will do a lot of Los Brownos.  It’ll also help to have touchdowns by the Browns’ offense, and whatnot.  I won’t use any math next week.

—————————–

Now, for the other side of the coin. What do the fans of the Norsemen have to say as the Brett Favre Era begins officially? Chop blocks for everyone! Without further ado…

The Vikings Will Win If…

Speaking of Favre, Dan Zinski is from Ashland, Wisconsin.  Destiny should’ve made him a Cheesehead but he had other ideas for himself, and chose the Vikings as his team.  He is the lead blogger for the Fansided.com Sports Network’s Vikings site The Viking Age.  He also writes Fansided’s Cubs blog Cubbies Crib, and contributes to the Fansided.com main page with his daily column Making it Look Easy.  He can also be found on Twitter at http://twitter.com/acforever.

…the offensive line can give Brett Favre enough time to show off his veteran savvy and legendary playmaking skill.  This is worrisome, as the pass blocking was not exactly solid in the preseason.  Despite all the gushing by the national media, the Vikings’ O-line is not a top-drawer unit.  Steve Hutchinson is of course a deserving Pro-Bowler, but beyond that, you have Bryant McKinnie whose pass blocking has never matched his run blocking, Anthony Herrera who is serviceable at best, and a pair of first-time starters in John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt.  The Vikes had problems pass-protecting last season, which forced Brad Childress to use more two tight end sets than he would’ve liked.  Having Brett Favre won’t do any good unless you’re able to occasionally spread things out with four receivers and let him pick defenses apart.  If you’re going to roll with two tight ends and throw short all day, might as well let Sage Rosenfels play.  Favre also won’t be any use if his old bones get battered into dust (or if he hurts himself trying to block safeties in the Wildcat).

As for the defense:  If form holds, the Browns will not be able to run, but they will be able to make hay with the passing game over the middle.  The Vikings’ whole gameplan is to take away the deep pass, keep everything in front of them, and tackle receivers before they’re able to get extra yards.  This leads to infuriating 12 play drives made up almost entirely of five yard completions.  Brady Quinn just needs to stay patient – there will be holes in the zones.  If he looks for his tight ends, he has a chance to make things happen.  Of course, he also has to avoid being eaten for lunch by Jared Allen and Kevin Williams, who are as unrelenting as any defensive linemen in the league.  And watch those Antoine Winfield corner blitzes.  Like I said before, no use even trying to run on this team.  The combination of Williams Wall, sure-tackling linebackers and safeties who aren’t afraid to come up and pop people in the mouth makes this Viking run D as impenetrable as ever.

 

Adam Warwas is the editor of Vikings Gab.

…they polish the little things on offense and put pressure on the quarterback on defense.  On offense the Vikings have struggled with penalties and converting third downs.  These two things go hand-in-hand as all to often the Vikings find themselves in unmanageable third down situations because of a stupid penalty.  I don’t think the Vikings will have to score a ton of points (it would help though) to beat the Browns.  Managing their field position and avoiding the big mistakes on offense will continue to give Adrian Peterson and Brett Favre chances to make things happen.  The Vikings defense should have no problem stopping this suspect running game, which means they could totally shut down the Browns offense by rattling Brady Quinn.  The front seven need to be relentless for an entire four quarters in their pursuit of the young signal caller.  In the end, the Vikings should be able to handle the Browns rather easily if they can avoid shooting themselves in the foot.

—————————–

What does everyone else think?

  • B-bo

    ….Brett Favre does his gunslinger routine and serves up a pick or 4. Also, if AP could somehow injure himself getting off the team bus, that would be great. Josh Cribbs takes a kickoff and a punt to the house. Finally, and frankly this is the least realistic of all, maybe Braylon could actually catch a pass or two thrown his way.

  • Isis

    It’s all on the Browns defense (or lack thereof). I expect Brady to begin showing he’s quite capable of moving the chains and controlling the clock with an efficient blend of ball control-well, it may have to be through the air this week. That said, I’m not at all as optimisitic about the Browns front seven as most of you seem to be. DQ Jackson needs to show he can hit someone at the line of scrimmage and not just rack up tackle stats seven yards beyond. Three Keys:

    1.) Will this new regime muster a scheme to put pressure on the QB? Will K. Wimbley be invisible again? Who will rush on the edge, and when?
    2.) Abe Elam. This man is key. He’s known to be tough in the box and weak as toast over top. Will he stack the box and force man coverage, or will the front seven hold enough ground for the secondary to play over/under?
    3.)Will Mangini come out as usual with a game plan and stubbornly pound away at it without making any adaptations in the second half? Will he fold his arms, stand in cement and chomp gum? Or, will he make adjustments and show some passion?

  • http://exileoncourtstreet.blogspot.com Les Fleurs Du Mal

    Just looked at the depth chart for our front 7. Not feeling good about it . . . outside of Rogers there is not one BEAST in the group that is anything but occasionally serviceable. I dont want to hear about D’Qwell as he is dogged in chasing down guys after 5-7 yard gains . . .

  • http://exileoncourtstreet.blogspot.com Les Fleurs Du Mal

    sorry Isis, I wrote my comment before seeing yours . . .

  • Anon Imus

    I think Isis’ point #3 is the most critical factor. Will Mangini adapt the game plan to the opponent’s weakness? All indicators so far point to a resounding (and refreshing) yes, as Eric has blabbed on and on about matchups. Offensively, we need to pass and pass and then pass some more. Look at what pittsburgh did last night against a very good TN defense – 43 pass attempts, and came away with the win. Good old Romeo kept trying to beat the Titans at their own game last season stuffing the run down their through. Hopefully, Mangini let’s Quinn let it loose on Sunday. And defensively, let’s stack the box and let the old fogey QB beat us. My sense is that he will make a big mistake sooner or later. This game is a terrible matchup for the Browns, but keeping thte gameplan flexible may keep it close. I hope Manginin does not disappoint us.
    AI

  • TDML

    Did you just utilize a mathematical equation in order to mask the catch phrase “to the max”?

  • mitchum man

    I guarantee peterson will exceed 80 yards in one run on sunday

  • Anon Imus

    OH and Mangini might be somewhat familair with Favre’s tendencies — that may be a nice advantage….

  • MacNip

    Looks for a lot of screens and delayed passes to the TE and RB (ala the Steelers last night) to try and make up for the fact that we wont be able to run against that d-line

  • kevin

    I don’t understand. All we, as fans, need to do for the Browns to win is WILL them to victory.

    See, I live in pittsburgh, and the people here honestly think they have something to do with the steelers recent success. They say the steelers are good because the city demands results.

    I guess they take the summers off with their result demanding.

  • Harv 21

    We just don’t match up well. Look for unexpectedly heavy use of James Davis and his little cutback moves on early downs if Jamal’s dance routine gets crushed in the first quarter by the Williams Boys. Look for laughingly large doses of play action and screens if Vikings crush the run. Look for an attempted gadget play or reverse starring Cribbs when Vikings ignore play action and sit on the screens.

    Think this could be a blow out early if we can’t handle Peterson in the first half. Our best shot is cold-cocking them early with a big Cribbs return, another quick turnover and score, and Favre deciding he’s going to take care of us all by his lonesome.

  • Kevin Hignett

    Denny – “hilariously lead his buddies into giant puddles while wearing Wrangler jeans.”

    Nicely played, sir.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    @ TDML – I wasn’t hiding it, I was just making sure that I got the most bang for my buck from the phrase.

  • bobby

    I feel like the offense will struggle. I do not expect the running game to be anything, so I would think the browns get 3-5 legitimate scoring chances. They need to capitalize on these. If they get in the red zone they gotta get some points.

    The Defense is the key. We arent going to be able to get in a shoot out, so this D needs to bend and not break. I fully expect AD to get close if not more then 150 yards. It will be key tho, to not allow any huge TD run. Also, they can’t give up the big play. the vikings have the weapons to go deep, so the browns have to get to Favre before he can throw. Hall and Wimbley both need to be in the backfield all game bringing down RBs and getting QB pressures and sacks. If the D holds Minny to 17 or less points, the browns will have a chance to win in the last 2 minutes. If Minny gets over 30, this game could be a blow out.

  • Pingback: Friday Linkage | The Viking Age | A Blog For Minnesota Vikings Fans

  • Doogy

    I think the Browns will win if they score more points then the Vikings.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com DP Diesel

    Chris Berman picked it to by CLE 19 – MIN 17. So, in other words, Minny wins by 25.

  • P@

    I disagree with #14… I think Cleveland wins if we get into a shootout. The best thing for the Browns would be for the Vikings to get all pass-happy with their new (formerly) rocket-armed QB. The worst thing for Cleveland is a controlled game with mostly runs where Minnesota eats up the clock. If they start tiring out our first string defense… I mean, yikes. Awful things will happen with AP and Chester Taylor running against our second stringers. I’d like to see the Browns use a lot of 5-10 yard passes on offense (Quinn’s bread-and-butter), and on defense, we need to plug those running lanes. Go ahead and just leave Elam in the box. I’d rather Favre beat us than Peterson.

  • http://clev.com zeppelin1

    stop the run and anderson will start (don`t tell vikes)

  • TDML

    @13 – Well…I can’t fault you, there.

    I’d say they need 1) for Rogers to step in and gel as “they” think he will. I still say that missing all preseason games hurts you as a player. I don’t care how good you are. Without those reps, we’ll see some rust being shaken off and as Rogers is prone to not playing every snap it’ll take longer to shake off that rust. I think Rogers and staff are fooling themselves that he’s just going to jump back in and it’s not going to affect the line. 2) Quinn needs to demonstrate he can be a force in a downfield strike with Braylon. If the Vikes keep the run game minimal and the offense can’t convince them they’re willing to go deep with the pass, it won’t matter how well the offense is managed. 3) They’ll need to exploit their special teams strength: get in good field position, potentially score on a return, and pin them deep.

  • bobby

    @P- I get what you are saying, but I dont see BQ as a shoot out type of QB. If you want a shoot out i think you want DA. Sure lets stop the run, but I just dont think the O can put up a ton of points against Minny.