Browns v. Cincy – Week 4

Thoughts on the game – Week 4 (CIN)

Overall comments:

Another quick caveat.  My game watching ability was again slightly impaired by the venue.  While State has great food, the deafening music at the commercials and inept staff (finding the game on satellite) left a lot to be desired.

First: No new injuries.  This is the first time this year that someone hasn’t missed a game due to an injury from the previous week.  Here’s hoping Shaffer is OK and two weeks will give him enough rest.

Second:  Play calling was a little weird until the 4th quarter.  As stated in previous recaps, Jamal Lewis is the man, and balance is needed for any offense.  However, Football Outsiders has a lot of statiscal research showing that the pass sets up the run, not the opposite.  In addition, the Bengals secondary was slightly depleted (no Jonathan Joseph), so even with Steptoe making his 4th start, the running focused offense was a bit of a mystery to me.  It might have indicated a lack of faith in DA (somewhat substantiated). 

Third: With regards to Crennel’s decision to not pull DA in the 4th quarter, here are a couple of thoughts:

1)      Making a QB change in the middle of the game is risky business.  It shows a complete lack of confidence in the offense and QB.

2)      If DA faltered for the rest of the game, Quinn would have had two weeks of reps to prepare for the Giants, as opposed to some snaps during this weeks practice.

3)      Not making the change worked.  DA snapped back into last year’s form (after getting berated – justifiably – by Braylon).  I still think DA has enormous issues reading zones, but hopefully two weeks of film will help

Fourth: Crennel went for it on 4th and 1 and didn’t succeed.   But, it was the right call.  I’m ecstatic that he did this and I hope he views it the same way I do, right call, bad execution, not simply based on the result (incomplete pass)

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

WR: Stallworth, Jurevicious

OL: Tucker

LB: Peak, McGinnest

DB: Holly, Jones

DL: R. Smith

 

QB

Anderson’s struggles were apparent, so you don’t need me to tell you that this is an issue.  He frequently missed receivers.  However, he did pull it together and the end of the game, and hopefully, he’ll continue on this streak.  I don’t think this is the case, but believe he deserves an opportunity to prove himself.  As stated before, prior to this game, he faced 3 top 10 defenses

RB

I’m starting a Jamal Lewis fan club.  He’s one mean looking individual with an incredibly aggressive running style.  Further, his intervention between Anderson and Edwards could be the turning point in the season for the offense.  Harrison dropped a ball that he needs to catch.  Vickers has done a better job breaking tackles in the open field. 

Another comment, called asinine stat of the week:  Browns are 5-0 when Jamal rushes for more than 25 times a game.  (From James Walkers AFC North blog on ESPN http://myespn.go.com/blogs/afcnorth/0-0-414/Seven-step-drop–Browns-Bengals-edition.html . This is a classic example of correlation not causation.  For all non-stats readers this can best be described in football terms:

Research (again Football Outsiders) has shown that teams are undefeated every time they run this one specific play in the 4th quarter.  Yet for some reason, no team has tried to ensure victory by running this play earlier in the game, or even for the whole game. 

Know the play:   Victory formation, QB kneel.

Another example:  If the Browns are ensured a victory when he runs the ball 25 times.  Why not just give him the ball 25 times to start the game?

Obviously when the Browns win, Lewis touches the ball more.  If they’re ahead in the game near the end he gets the ball. (6 carries after having the lead yesterday).  However, this doesn’t mean they should give him the ball so much early in the game.

 

OL

Fraley’s really starting to have issues handling bigger guys in short yardage situations.  This could be a real big long term problem for two reasons: 1) It’s crucial for the offense 2) He makes most of the line calls, is well respected in the organization and by the team, and therefore may be really hard to replace.  Sowells finally made it out of the 4 year old dog house to get some snaps (granted it took a lot of injuries to get him there).  He wasn’t asked to do much (just run block), so I can’t really make a better analysis.

TE/WR

K2 is certainly a weapon, and the browns need to continue their attempts to get him the ball.  He and Edwards both are reeling from a lack of a 3rd threat (Steptoe may have proven to be a decent #3 and good #4.  As you noticed, “Dropped by” Edwards changed his name back to Braylon with one great TD catch.

Defense

DL

The Bengals had absolutely no rushing offense (except for Fitzpatrick on scrambles), and a lot of credit goes to the 4 man rotation (Williams, Rodgers, S. Smith and Leonard).  However, Leonard needs to stop jumping offside. The pass rush generated was good, although, this was a slightly depleted offensive line.  Fitzpatrick made the DL look slow (which they are. . . intentionally),  but keep in mind, S. Smith wasn’t supposed to be in on passing situations, and because of Robaire’s injury, he is. 

LBs

Alex Hall again showed his athleticism, and it’s great that the browns found an absolute steal in the 7th round .  On the other side, Wimbley’s still struggling to generate a pass rush.  I’ll be watching closely in the NYG game to see how many double teams he faces.   Again, I wasn’t focused on watching the ILBs, but the great run defense leads me to believe they did a decent job.

 

DBs

Pool looked good in coverage again, and is also great against the run.  I really think they should keep him over Jones just based on his versatility (and could likely be cheaper.  McDonald impressed me with his tackling ability, as did the secondary as a whole (I think 1 missed tackle against two great WRs).  The Browns were near the top of the league in yards after catch last year, although this stat could have some misleading issues.

 

Overall

The win should provide some much needed confidence.  The OL will be tested a week from Monday, and will determine whether or not we win.   For those DA haters, all three QBs that played the Giants this year (Palmer, Bulger and Campbell) have had sub par days with respect to their QB rating.  So if DA looks good, it just might be the defense, not the offense.

 

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