Dolphins vs Browns – Week 1 – DC Show Preview and Prediction
Is there any better pomp and circumstance than Browns Opening Day? A day when our nation’s pride bellows for its most celebrated game with 70,000 barking fans drunk since breakfast standing for a 100 yard long flag as jets scream overhead during the national anthem? You’re damn right it’s football season. And hooray for it! As we approach half a year’s worth of days of baseball and we’re still playing regular season games, without football, baseball would literally never end.1
Aside from the Tribe’s post-season hunt being met with a yawn from most of Cleveland, knowing football is king here is as obvious as making fun of how bad the Browns have been. And though with the further removal last season of Modell’s shit stain on this franchise when his longtime family friends the Lerner’s finally sold the team, with a new regime in place and yet another system overhaul at work, how much can we really expect this year in improvement?
Most notably we have an offense that ranked 24th overall in scoring last year that only added one significant player with the addition of slot receiver Davone Bess. Other than that…sure hope Norv Turner not only turns Weeden around like he has every other QB he’s ever been a coordinator for, but Trent Richardson also somehow stays healthy and shows he’s worth the value of a #3 overall pick, and that our other receivers not only hold onto the ball, they stop being suspect headcases and learn to run routes. If that all happens, which is a lot, then, maybe, top 20 in scoring? Something like 18th overall?
The reality for this year is that the Browns offense is a wait and see in the vein of , Banner and Lombardi will wait and see what works with better coaches and schemes in place and then begin to fill in the holes they can next offseason. Sucks to read, I know, but it looks to be the case since not much was added and we’re going with a bunch of unproven two year guys playing alongside Thomas and Mack. As for the defense, no matter how much the team invested in its transition from 4-3 to a 3-4, that’s something that almost always takes a season or two to transition from and succeed. It may be fast tracked here, but no matter how you look at it the Browns D still has holes too, most notably in the secondary and also with some questions at middle linebacker.2 No matter how much they may “get after the quarterback” in Ray Horton’s game plans this year, you have to fear the big play might be the death of this team in more than a couple games, especially through the air.
Thankfully, however, Week 1, the Dolphins are a team with holes to fill and positions to solidify themselves, and all in all, even with the additions to their receiving corps, they make for a favorable matchup for the Browns.
When you go through position by position it can be seen as a pretty even call outside of a few key favors for the Browns. Offensive line, defensive line and running back. You’d probably give an edge to Tannehill over Weeden and the same for the Miami receivers over the Browns secondary, but other than those back and forth advantages which might equal out, it looks like the biggest deciding factor today will come down to who prevents the big plays (the best) and who has the fewest mental mistakes. Then there’s also these…
…Key Matchups to Watch Out For
Brian Hartline vs. the cornerback committee that isn’t Haden who’ll have his hands full with Wallace. Everyone I’ve heard and read is looking at Haden vs Wallace, but when considering the fact that outside of Joe’s rookie year where in two games Wallace beat him on big plays with 6 receptions going for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns, I like how since then in 3 games Haden has only allowed 6 receptions for 77 yards and no touchdowns. Granted in the last game Charlie Batch was throwing the ball, but still, Haden should neutralize Wallace. Which leaves Hartline. O-H… and be afraid. This favors Miami significantly, and Owens, McFadden, you, whomever, better be ready and capable. Hartline is likely to have a big day.
Schwartz vs. Wake. Cameron Wake is a monster who will test second year right tackle Mitchell Schwartz relentlessly all day. Will Schwartz continue to be the proven star at right tackle, especially in pass protection where he already rated as one of the best in the games in his rookie campaign? He’ll have to, because otherwise Weeden could be disrupted all day long by a one man wrecking machine called Wake. And it could be enough to sway the game in the wrong direction for the Cleveland faithfull.
The Vegas line opened at +1 Browns and ardent Cleveland fans and degenerate gamblers have shifted that over the week to -1. Either way, it’s mostly a pick-em, but take the points because the Browns win this day at home. In fact, as everyone fears the tough start to the schedule, I say the Browns start 2-1 and they start with a win today.3 Expect Richardson to find the endzone a couple times, by seeing the ball going to him more than the 37% of the time it did last year and up to around 50%. Expect Weeden to be just good enough. Expect his receivers to be just good enough. Expect Ray Horton’s attack to be just good enough. And, expect the home field advantage on Opening Day to also, finally, be just enough to give this 2013 Cleveland Browns, a win to start the season.
Pretty good way to start, don’t you think. It’d sure be a refreshing change to the last 8 years of misery this day has been.
Go football. Go Browns!
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- For all of you who are going to Tribe game today which starts the same time as kickoff, please let the rest of us know how it goes. We’re only 1.5 out of Wild Card contention, it’s important. We’ll be watching the game, however. Which is how most really feel. For those that don’t, enjoy your Bud Selig brand and please live your happy life knowing you are limited to such a small percentage of the population in Cleveland you’re like people who prefer winter to summer. And with baseball being the “summer past time”, enjoy the irony of that statement. [↩]
- Like Robertson, but can he and the 3-4 other guys who’ll be rotating in out be equal to one spectacular middle linebacker? And DQ, though he is a veteran team leader who always gives 100%, he’s played in a 3-4 before, and poorly. Do you really think he’s gotten better shedding downfield linemen against the run and dropping back into coverage over the years? Like I said, this team has some questions at middle linebacker, if not at least, they sure have something yet to prove. [↩]
- Stay tuned here for Week 2 and Week 3 predictions for clarification. In other words, I’m a tease. [↩]
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