Last season, the Browns won a hard-fought, high-scoring battle with the Kansas City Chiefs thanks to two touchdown returns by Josh Cribbs and a record-breaking day for Jerome Harrison. Rushing for 286 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries, Harrison was integral in the 41-34 win that featured an amazingly low 66 yards passing.
Needless to say, Harrison is no longer flying under the radar when it comes to Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley.
“I would say that I’m paying attention to Jerome,” said Haley. “We definitely have a jersey No. 35 out there and when you have a guy play as well as he did against us, you tend to not forget that for a long, long time.”
In the two games prior to that match-up with the Chiefs, Harrison had totaled only 17 carries and amassed 41 yards on the ground. But once then-lead back Jamal Lewis was placed on the injured reserve, it was all Harrison and Arrowhead Stadium was his coming out party.
Unfortunately for Harrison, he was expected to be the lead back in a run-heavy offense in 2010 yet only received nine carries in week 1. Though he totaled 52 yards (5.8 yards per carry), 39 yards came on one base draw play that was a part of the run-heavy first half. In the second half, the Browns turned to the air more often than not and Harrison’s effectiveness was not able to be utilized.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers provided many defensive formations that featured at least eight men in the box – sometimes as many as 10 – forcing the Browns to attempt to beat them through the air. Ultimately losing 17-14 on Sunday, the Browns will once again be forced to make the Chiefs – with newly-hired defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel – respect their passing game if Harrison is going to have a day even remotely close to what he provided one season prior. An eight- or nine-man front with at least one man delegated as a spy on Harrison is not out of the question.
One man who could be responsible for keeping Harrison at bay is linebacker Derrick Johnson, a player who recorded 11 solo tackles and a forced fumble in the Chiefs’ Monday night win over the Chargers. Johnson, naturally, is not going to focus on the past as much as he is this Sunday.
“We’re trying to move past last year,” said Johnson. We didn’t win the game and that’s our ultimate goal. You have to have a short term memory in this league so you have to forget last year and move on to this year.”