The DEFEND Cleveland Show

Browns vs Vikings – Week 3 – DC Show Preview



Whether it was going to be Weeden and Richardson or as it’s turned out to be with Hoyer and McGahee/Ogbonnya/Rainey, in looking forward to Week 3 vs Minnesota the most interesting aspect of this matchup was, and is, Adrian Peterson against this new Browns defense. It really doesn’t matter that the Browns season was flipped for the 2014 NFL Draft on Wednesday, by the end of last week’s loss to the Ravens it’s become very clear the Browns strength is its defense, and seeing it pitted against the best running back in the game is today’s sell. As for the Browns offense…well, let’s just say it looked bad enough with Weed’s and T-Rich, anything that turns up exciting now with Hoyer and his running game by committee, though welcome, certainly doesn’t qualify as something anyone besides Hoyer’s family and friends should have high hopes and expectations for. Nope, this game for Browns fans is all about what they have to cheer for now, this defense, and there’s no greater test than AP when it comes to seeing just how good this rebuilt squad is.

Having so far held opposing running games to a 2.0 yards per carry, this Browns front 7 is carving a path for itself as being elite. They haven’t faced the likes of what Peterson brings however. A back who not only has proven to be one of the all-time best, but he’s also running behind a line who run blocks with the best of them. Ranking 3rd overall last year in run blocking and rated 9th best so far this season, even though defenses have long known to stack against the run, it hasn’t much mattered, because between Peterson and his line they still found a way last year to have one of the greatest running games ever. One thing has definitely been different this season though, and it’s something where the Browns have luck working in their favor this week.1

What’s was present in front of Peterson last season when he ended up just 7 yards shy of all-time, was incredibly strong blocking fullbacks. With Pro-Bowler Jerome Felton serving the last game of his 3 game suspension for a DUI, and backup fullback/tight end Rhett Ellison out with a knee issues (i.e., two of the best blockers out of the backfield in the league), though having so far played well this year, the Vikings are having to go with an undrafted Zach Line, a rookie who hadn’t played fullback since he was a junior in high school. He’s no Felton. He’s no Ellison. And for those of you wondering why AP hasn’t been as productive this year, you now see a clearer picture. It’s called good fortune for this Browns defense who’s hungry to continue and prove itself.


Key Matchups to Watch Out For

– Adrian Peterson against the Browns front 7 on defense. For reals.

Jared Allen and Brian Robison on the edges. Even without his usually lead blockers, Peterson is certainly dangerous, but what might end up equally as scary are these two beasts lined up opposite one another on the edge of the Vikings defensive line. And considering their Browns offensive counterparts of Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz have allowed 5 sacks (compliments of Schwartz) and 15 hurries (7 for Thomas and 8 for Schwartz), they’ll truly have their work cut out for them today. Granted, with right guard Shawn Lauvao returning and Cousins back on the bench where hopefully he’ll not ever step foot from again, the Browns line should be significantly improved. Will it be anywhere near enough though? Keep in mind, Lauvao rated as one of the worst guards in the NFL last year (again), but at least his being bad is not quite half as bad as Cousins, and he also was the guy next to Schwartz all year in 2012. This return to form is so very welcome, and I expect Schwartz to benefit most and look more like his impressive rookie season self. Here’s hoping anyway.

– Who will be the more inaccurate passer? Will it be Brian Hoyer who in his first year away from the cradle of being Tom Brady’s backup started the last game of  the season for Arizona and completing 57% of his throws on 33 attempts in a loss to the 49ers (which is also the lone start of his almost completely inactive career)? It’s always been his issue, he completed a pretty poor 56% in his college days, and only posted 51% accuracy his senior season, and anything shy of 60% in college is a red flag. It’s safe to say that Hoyer’s arm will remind fans a little of Brady Quinn as balls start sailing off target. He may be a little better than Quinn in this regard, but it won’t be by much. Thankfully, on the other side of the ball it’s Christian Ponder, and his inaccuracy is becoming stuff of legend in Minnesota. As much as this may seem a huge overstatement, this game could truly be won by whoever has the higher completion percentage. Sometimes winning is about who’s the best, for this one it could be more about he who sucks the least.

The Tribe. I’d break this Browns/Vikings game down further for you, but c’mon, the Indians are wrapping up their series against the Astros today with a half game lead on the final Wild Card spot and first pitch is at the same time as kickoff. September baseball with postseason implications for your home team…or, the Browns a few days after they shipped off the 2013 season to have more rolls of the dice in the 2014 NFL Draft? I’m not going to say you shouldn’t watch the Browns at all this afternoon, but your best chances of enjoying your Sunday in Cleveland reside at Progressive Field today, not sitting at home hoping and praying the Browns don’t lose again.

On that note, today’s Beer of the Game will be this glorious 6 pack of Zombie Dust by one of the best breweries in the world, Three Floyds. A pale ale by name only, the only bad thing about this hoppy bottle of liquid love is that it’s been near impossible to find in Cleveland. Yes, I got very lucky this week thanks to Lily’s in Tremont and friend with an eye out for me. Rating a perfect 100 by Beer Advocate, if ever you get a chance to drink anything by Three Floyds, especially this one, seize the moment and enjoy!

Zombie Dust


Last season I went 9-5-2 picking the Browns against the spread and this year I’m off to an 0-2 start and not happy about it. With this game I really do feel the Browns chances to win this game are still alive even with the mid-week shakeup, however, until they do put it all together on the field, I’m not looking to give them any benefit of doubt. That said, Minnesota is 0-2 as well and this matchup sees each of team’s strengths pretty well equaled out. Anything is possible.

The line opened with the Browns +3 and since has soared to +7 due to the QB change and exodus of T-Rich. I don’t think those two out makes that huge of a difference, do you? Take the points, Browns fans, it may not be the much needed win this team really needs, but a showing would be welcome and I believe the Browns stay in this one, even if from defense alone.

Oh, and go Tribe!

-Mike James

Listen every Friday to “Defend Cleveland Friday with Mike and Joe”  by clicking here, a weekly hour long Cleveland sports podcast companion to the DC Show that’s the best way to end you week, and the only way to begin your weekend.

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  1. Yes, I just used the word “luck” and “Browns” in the same sentence without the qualifier of “bad”. Believe it. []

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Posted by on Sep 22 2013. Filed under Featured, Show Reports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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