HOUSTON - OCTOBER 30: Quarterback Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans throws in the first quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Reliant Stadium on October 30, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
"The Sunday Five" is a loosely-titled piece where I talk about five NFL- or Browns-related topics related to this past week. In today's special Daylight Saving Time edition, I take a look at how a certain fullback will be a big side storyline in today's game, another thought on the Peyton Hillis situation, and more.
The much-debated removal of fullback Lawrence Vickers from the offense has quieted down since the start of the regular season, but things might pick up again this week since Vickers is a member of the Houston Texans. Earlier in the week, Vickers talked about facing his former team. He said the Browns' running backs miss him (although Hillis was really the only running back on this team from last year that he ran behind) and that he's excited to see his former teammates again. Vickers is just now starting to "grow" into the role of being featured more as the Texans' fullback. Meanwhile, Owen Marecic of the Browns has been much better suited for the West Coast Offense, notching 3 catches for 18 yards all season. /sarc
I don't know if you think history plays any sort of a role against quarterbacks (i.e. for some reason, Peyton Manning would have trouble lighting it up against the Browns). In two career starts against Cleveland, Matt Schaub has thrown for 256 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. There are only a handful of teams that Schaub has had a worse history against, and he'll be going without All-Pro receiver Andre Johnson again. The Browns' secondary has been trashed and touted at different points this season, and it leads up to this: the Texans are bound to have success at running the ball, so will Schaub be able to pick our defense apart when he decides to throw? He may have an advantage if Derrick Mason is going up against Buster Skrine, who is filling in for Dimitri Patterson at nickelback today.
Do I still support Peyton Hillis? Yes, I stand by my support for him and my belief that the team was trying to motivate him with their intervention. He seemed to respond well last Thursday, they unfortunately reaggravated his hamstring on Friday. We need to completely shut him down until his hamstring is fully healed. If that means he can return around Week 12, we can have Hillis (and maybe even Montario Hardesty) available for all of our key division games. Who knows -- maybe both of them will even be extra fresh since they haven't been worn down all season. As far as today goes, we have to move on without them and hope for the best between Chris Ogbonnaya and Thomas Clayton.
The Texans use their tight ends as receivers very well. Owen Daniels is Schaub's favorite target with Johnson out, and he has three touchdowns on the season. Their backup tight end, Joel Dreessen, also had three touchdowns on the year, having caught a score in each of his past three games. When those guys have combined for six touchdowns, Cleveland's defensive gameplan will have to account for these guys. That will be tough to do though because you know the Texans will try to match the 49ers last week by setting up the run to Arian Foster, only to hit one of their tight ends (more likely Dreessen) after the fake.
When are we going to break the first quarter of literally doing nothing on offense? I would love to see the Browns open up the game in the hurry-up offense. Pat Shurmur should be embarrassed that his offense has not done a damn thing all season, particularly in the first quarter. He didn't seem willing to deviate from his gameplan when he was with the Rams though, so I'm not too optimistic about there being different results against the Texans. Our best chance of scoring in the first quarter will be if the defense forced a turnover and sets our offense up with a very short field to work with.