The DEFEND Cleveland Show

Bills vs Browns – Week 5 – DC Show Preview

BrownsDefense 2013

 

With a short week coupled with the fact that most deserved attention around the DC Show offices centered on the Tribe’s Wild Card postseason game last night, we’ll keep this DC Show Week 5 Preview somewhat brief. The main thing I’d like to point out, beyond the fact that given the Indians lost yesterday we could really use a Browns win tonight to lessen the blow to our collective heart, is just how goods this Browns defense has been so far. Sure Jordan Cameron has had a breakout year1, Josh Gordon is every bit the game changer his talent level suggests, and Hometown Hoyer is carving a path for himself as the season’s starter and who knows what from there, but the true highlight to this team has been a defense who all around, run defense, pressure, and yes, even pass coverage, sees them ranked 7th in total defense and 8th in points allowed per game with 17.5. When you consider they switched coaching and systems going from the 4-3 to a 3-4, and add the fact that last year they ranked 13th overall and 19th in points allowed (23.0 per game), giving just due to the offense and the surprise of late of Hoyer over that of what this defense has done, doesn’t make a lot of sense to us at the Defend Cleveland.

Like all things football, it starts with the front 7 on both sides of the ball, and on the defensive side of things in Cleveland Ray Horton’s squad has been elite. Led enlarge by Jackson, Sheard, Bryant, Taylor, Rubin, Robertson, Kruger, Hughes and Mingo, arguing this bunch could end up a top 5 defense this year is looking to be a sound argument. And that doesn’t even mention the Pro-Bowl year Joe Haden is having in finally proving he’s one of the best in the game, nor the year Ward is having which again is at a Pro-Bowl level.

OhMyMingo

Once you get past the front 7 though the focus centers on coverage and that’s honestly where you have to be most pleasantly surprised with this Browns defense. You knew the line was going to be strong, you knew Haden was likely to have a break-out year and that Ward was a solid safety, but everywhere else seemed to have more than its fair share of concern. Four weeks in however, and with Skrine continuing to prove he’s at least a serviceable corner, and following the increased solid play of Chris Owens and the week he had against the Bengals, only allowing 2 of 3 completions for a total of 11 yards, forcing and recovering a fumble, and playing 55% of the snaps (the most on the year for the 5 year corner and headed towards yet more involvement), and oops, all of a sudden our coverage isn’t near as bad as people feared. Ultimately, looking back to Week 4, no matter what concerns there may be with Andy Dalton, seeing that loaded passing attack of the Bengals never find the end zone and only net 206 yards through the air, totals the Bengals have only seen under Dalton twice and hasn’t happened since his rookie season in 2011, a clear signal has been sent to the rest the league the Browns defense is absolutely for real.

As for the rookie Mingo, who’s had 3 sacks in three games, he certainly looks like a rookie at times, but getting his first start last week with Sheard out and looking at the second chance he’ll get to start today against the Bills, and what can you say other than he totally looks like a solid choice by Banner and Lombardi at #6 overall. Just look at this pic of him rushing Dalton and imagine having to throw with that beast moving his 6’4 frame, condor wingspan and 4.4 forty on the attack against you. Yeah, be thankful he’s a Cleveland Brown.

Keys Matchups To Watch Out For

– Browns receivers against a battered and bruised Buffalo secondary – Lick your chops one more week fans of passing because the NFL gods have chosen to shine on Cleveland two weeks in a row. Much like the Bengals who rolled into town with only a healthy Pacman to speak of roaming in coverage, the Bills appear damaged just as bad, if not worse. With CBs Brooks and Gilmore both out and CB McKelvin and FS Byrd both expected to play while nursing injuries, if you’re Hoyer playing in your second home game for the team and city you grew up with, you have to be pretty excited about your chances of going 3-0 as the starter. If you’re Jordan Cameron having to go up against the emerging star of ILB Kiko Alonso you have your work cut out for you, but if you’re Gordon you’re probably hoping for a couple touchdowns and 100 plus yards going into this one. Now, whether or not Hoyer can find you down field, the biggest question against the Hometown Hoyer, well, let’s just see how that plays out, shall we.

– E.J. Manuel vs the Pass Rush – For a rookie Manuel has been impressive at times but what I’m most  interested in seeing this week with his league leading rushing backfield all banged up  is how he’ll handle the Horton heat. Settling into the middle of the pack in efficiency under pressure, that 35% of the time he’s seen pressure will likely go up since his running corps is hurting as bad as the team’s defensive secondary. Expect Horton to bring everything against Manuel and truly test him, and if Manuel passes this test, you better believe full well the Bills will have a chance to win tonight. If he crumbles, the Browns might win this game without their offense really having to do much at all.

Prediction

After last week I’m now 2-2 on the year betting the spread but I’ve yet to pick the Browns to win a game. This week that aspect ends. Much like the beginning of the year where most fans saw Week 5 against the Bills as a chance to get a win, I agree, and now see it that way even more than I did back in preseason. With the line opening at -3 Browns that now sees it at -3.5, not only do I suggest to all you degenerate gamblers out there that you should pick Cleveland to win, but I’m also telling you to take the points. Browns win by 4 or more tonight on national TV, and let the 1st place AFC North fun continue!

Oh, as for the “Beer of the Week”, it’s a school night with a late night of recording DCF with Joe (don’t miss tomorrow’s podcast!), and an early morning for me on Friday. We’ll have to pick that tradition up again for next Sunday’s Week 6 Preview.

Go Browns!

-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.

Listen to last Monday’s “The Defend Cleveland Show” in its entirety by clicking here.

The DC Show with host Mike James airs live every Monday morning from 9am-11:30am on WRUW-FM 91.1 Cleveland, and streams world wide here.

  1. Though a year later than this show predicted, we’ll still happily take it. []

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Posted by on Oct 3 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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