Browns v. Baltimore – Week 3

Overall comments:

First, a quick caveat.  I missed the 1st couple of series of the game, and also didn’t have a great view of the TV from the bar, so this review will be less in-depth than the others.   First, I want to remove the initial part of the conversation from any of these topics: There’s something wrong with a) Anderson, b) Chud, c) Crennel d) defense that’s causing this losses.  There are two major factors to the Brown’s 0-3 start. 

First, is an unprecedented amount of injuries:  Football Outsiders has done research that showed one of the highest correlating factors to a team’s record is offensive line continuity.  The Browns haven’t had the same offense line play a single game yet this year, and they barely played together in the preseason.  To further this point, I want you to think back to last year’s OL and the fact that the team had few relative injuries to the starters, and when they did get hurt, it was for an extended period of time and the line adjusted to playing together.  If Tucker returns next week as expected, it will be the 4th different offensive line to start a game this year.  

Outside of the offensive line, the Browns started their 6th receiver, Syndric Steptoe (Edwards is #1, Stallworth is #2, Joe J is #3, Kasper was brought in to be #4, and Cribbs is #5, for the 3rd straight game.  Steptoe didn’t make the Brown’s roster last year.  In addition, their 7th receiver, Steve Sanders, played prominently in 1 of the games.   If you think this doesn’t affect the Browns offense in terms of ability, and plays they can call, you’re crazy.

The defensive injuries have been less crazy, but not much.  At best, the Browns can only start 8 of their penciled in starters from the preseason (Peek, Holly, Robiare are injured). The two starting safeties haven’t played together yet, and Alex Hall (the team’s 4th OLB, and 7th round pick), started on Sunday.

The 2nd reason the team has looked so bad this year is that they’ve played 3 of the best defenses in the league.  That will slow any offense down (look at Green Bay against Dallas from last night).  Yes, the Browns need to be able to beat good defenses, but doing it with your #6 receiver and you’re 3rd and 4th guard aren’t easy.

 

Injury update (unless noted, scheduled starters are starting):

WR: Stallworth, Jurevicious

OL: Steinbach, Tucker

LB: Peak, McGinnest

DB: Holly, Jones

DL: R. Smith

 

QB

Not much new here, except I can’t figure out why teams rush Anderson at all.  I’d just sit back in a zone and wait for him to make the wrong read.  Keep in mind though, this isn’t a new problem.  This was the same problem as last year, but a healthy offensive line and Jurevicious make a huge difference.

RB

Again, not much new here.  Jamal runs hard and over people.  Harrison looks quick. 

OL

Great strategy by the Ravens putting Suggs against Tucker (who was overmatched twice).  Thomas shut him down last year and the Ravens realized (as I hope more team’s don’t), that Shaffer can’t handle a good pass rusher.  The run blocking was average, which says a lot against a good defense and aforementioned injuries.

TE

K2 looks good, but a less threatening Edwards, and no Joe is leaving him facing double coverage.  He has a hard time beating two guys

WR

Edwards was questionable, and based on his performance, probably needs a week off.  Syndric Steptoe played, and that’s all I have to say.

Overall Offense

Crennel should have gone for it on 4th and 4 in the 4th Quarter.  He may have Zastudil in his fantasy league this year as well.  They were down 18 points at the time.  Want to see the right move, down 18 with 10 minutes to play in the 4th quarter, the Jets kicked the ball onside.  Regardless of whether or not they recovered the ball, the Jets players know their coach is trying to win the game at every opportunity.

Defense

DL

Rodgers played well, but he sometimes falls back on his incredible ability to get penetration, which sometimes hurts a 3-4. If the Browns make a coaching move in the offseason, I wouldn’t be shocked if they go to a 4-3, and have some very effective pieces (Rodgers, Williams, Shaun Smith, Wimbley).  I want to be clear that I’m against this strategy (it makes Beau Bell, and Leon Williams players without a role and requires that we find 2 OLBs (Peak is bad in a 4-3, and that’s the reason he left Houston)

Alex Hall showed his athleticism on his sack, further displaying why a healthy McGinnest shouldn’t be on the field in obvious pass situations.  I wasn’t able to watch him close enough on run plays.

LBs

Hard to evaluate.  My seat at the bar was too far from the TV

DBs

Pool looked good in coverage.  The Browns will have a tough situation in which they have to decide which S to keep.  I think Pool is better, because he’s solid against the run (where Jones is below average against the pass).

By the way, the Cowboys defense is exceptionally better without Roy Williams in at safety.  Not only is he the most overrated player in the NFL, he may not be starter worthy.  Somehow he made it to the pro bowl last year.

Overall

We’re moving in the wrong direction and the team is in desperate need of a week off  to heal injuries.  Here’s hoping the beat CIncy and make it to the by injury free.

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