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Know your Enemy: Cleveland Browns

You know the deal by now..It is Know your enemy: Cleveland Browns edition. We got Peter Smith from Dawg Pound Daily to give the lowdown. Have fun and tell a friend. 

1) How on earth are the Browns 2-2? As an outsider, I couldn't tell you 5 Browns on the team, yet, you guys have held your own the past three weeks. How are they doing it?

The Browns are keyed by a strong defense, particularly the front seven. They had talented pieces in place like Joe Haden, D'Qwell Jackson, Phil Taylor, Jabaal Sheard, T.J. Ward and Athyba Rubin as well as some other pieces that have taken a step forward and become better.  Those include Craig Robertson, Billy Winn, John Hughes, Buster Skrine, Tashaun Gipson.

This offseason, the Browns signed Paul Kruger and Desmond Bryant be be frontline starters and both have been great. Bryant has arguably been the best player on the entire unit.  They went out and drafted Barkevious Mingo who has been able to make an instant impact.The Browns are an impressive run defense and are able to put teams in obvious pass situations and get after them with the pass rush.
 
Offensively, they are mostly the same as last year and the best players on the unit are Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron.  They are dangerous enough to make enough plays to win when the defense is able to do its job, but the defense is clearly the driving force behind this team.

2) How do you feel about the QB play of Brian Hoyer? What are his strengths and weaknesses?

Brian Hoyer is a quarterback that makes quick decisions, gets the ball in the hands of playmakers, and has a decent arsenal of throws he will use; Including back shoulder throws to get guys in positions to make plays.  Hoyer is athletic enough where he can extend plays with his legs and while he is not much of a threat to run with the ball, he can get away from pass rushers.  He seems to be an overall average quarterback, but that is a massive improvement from Brandon Weeden.  Certainly, the Browns are going to keep looking at him since he is the only quarterback worth looking at on the roster at this point, but with all of their draft picks, it seems like a good bet they will still look to address the quarterback position in the draft.

3) If you were the opposition, how would you attack the Cleveland offense and defense?

To deal with the Browns offense, it comes down to frustrating Gordon and Cameron and putting pressure on Hoyer.  Cameron has been much harder to shut down than Gordon because of his size, strength and ability to get open.  The Bengals were able to contain Gordon last week but really never found an answer for Gordon.  Perhaps with a talented coverage backer like Kiko Alonso, they can use some kind of combo coverage to box Cameron in while being able to protect Gordon from going over the top. 

The Browns are trying to get a semblance of a running game after moving Trent Richardson.  The results have been relatively mediocre and the Browns have employed screens to help make up for not being able to run the ball with any consistency.  The Browns are vulnerable on the right side because of Oniel Cousins, but Shawn Lauvao may be back this week.  Nevertheless, the best area to attack has been on that right side.

Defensively, one of the areas the Browns did not deal well with against the Vikings was with a quarterback who could run.  Ponder had 45 yards rushing and 2 TDs off of a mix of designed runs and scrambling.  They simply did not account for him.
 
One has to imagine they will account for Manuel's legs, but having the Bills receivers work different levels of the field while rolling Manuel out and if it is not there, having him take off could be a good way to approach things.  If the Bills can protect Manuel, there will be windows in the middle of the field because of the pressure Horton (Defensive coordinator) will send.  When he sends 6 or 7 rushers, there are only 4 or 5 on the field to defend the pass.  Getting the ball to the receiver away from Haden, likely Woods in space, would be a good idea.  And there is almost no defense for 6'7" 260lbs so there is never a bad time to go for the tight end.
 
The Browns have been extremely strong against the run, especially in the middle. So while the Bills may want to keep them honest in the middle, they might want to use both backs and find ways to get Spiller the ball in space.  Because of what the Browns do so well, Manuel is going to need to be able to step up and make some plays and given the last few weeks, that could be difficult.  The Browns are going to do everything in their power to make him be the one to beat them.


4) Why has Jordan Cameron been so affective for you guys?

 Jordan Cameron is a tremendous athlete.  It is difficult to cover someone who is 6'4" 250lbs, but what makes Cameron so effective is his ability to run routes.  He has good agility, can plant his foot in the ground to get open and is extremely comfortable going up in the air to get the football.  Even when he is covered, he is not necessarily covered.  He has great ball skills and really taken advantage of his opportunities.  In addition to everything else, Cameron has speed and can stretch the field, so he can attack all areas of the field.  The issue with Cameron is his blocking; not good at it.

5) Your defense already has 14 sacks on the season and shut down the Bengals last week. Why has their defense been playing so much better this year?

The front seven makes this defense go.  When they are able to put teams in obvious third down situations, they have so many options to attack offenses.  Desmond Bryant and Billy Winn have been able to get pressure from the defensive line, though Winn is currently hurt.  From the outside, the Browns have had Jabaal Sheard (probably out for this game) as well as Paul Kruger and rookie Barkevious Mingo, so the Browns are able to put pressure on from all sides.  They have incredible depth and can rotate a ton of guys into the game without losing anything.

 
And Horton has a secondary he believes in with Haden playing the best football of his career.  And while Skrine is maligned locally, he had his best game of the season against the Bengals and gets a lot of credit on a national level.  T.J. Ward can be used in a number of different roles at safety.  D'Qwell Jackson has not been able to do what Alonso has in terms of interceptions, but he has tipped 3 passes that have resulted in interceptions.  Hoyer's strategy is pretty simple.  Stop the run, put the opponent in obvious passing situations.  Attack from all over the place, force the opponent to make decisions quickly and hope they make mistakes.

 

Joe

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