Good morning, Cleveland Browns fans, and welcome to gameday! Be sure to check out our game preview and prediction for the Browns' Week 2 contest today against the Baltimore Ravens. In this week's edition of "The Sunday Five," I take a look why expectations should be higher for the offense this week, the offensive line needing to improve, an unusual trend for Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski, and more.
This league is all about adjustments, and I expect to see plenty of them from the Browns' offense. The Browns came out heavy with the runs to start last week's game against the Dolphins. Trent Richardson complained about not getting enough carries, and Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner acknowledged that he should get more work this week. While that may be a priority, the Browns have to be thinking about the passing game early on.
Cleveland needs Brandon Weeden, the offensive line, and the receivers to get into a rhythm early in the game. Even if it takes a series or two for them to fall into a groove, they have to establish the passing game against a secondary that gave up seven passing touchdowns in Week 1 to Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Once that happens, then the Browns can start feeding the ball to Richardson with more regularity, because Baltimore will have to respect the pass. The problem in the past with Richardson seems to be giving him too many carries early on, but then the passing game isn't quite in sync. They try to establish it later in the game, but then the plan to run the ball gets out of sync and nobody ends up happy.
Of course, the biggest issue the Browns face this week is getting better production from their offensive line across the board. Even left tackle Joe Thomas gave up a couple of quarterback pressures last week. The right side of the line is where most of the trouble was, though, with right guard Oniel Cousins and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. I don't know how many reps the Browns have been giving Garrett Gilkey in practice, but if Cousins struggles anywhere near the level he did a week ago, I hope we see the early hook.
Fortunately for Weeden, if Haloti Ngata lines up mostly on Alex Mack, he shouldn't face as difficult of an individual match-up as he did a week ago. I'm not sure the same can be said for Schwartz, who faces Browns-killer Elvis Dumervil. That's where some of the adjustments by the coaching staff needs to be made -- incorporating the tight ends and running backs in the protection schemes more effectively. Heck, if the Browns need to use a guy like tight end Keavon Milton on every snap, go ahead. If Brandon Weeden has the time to throw, the All-22 film last week showed that these Browns receivers and tight ends do have the ability to get open and create separation down the field.
Last week, I asked the DBN community to predict the first offensive play, first defensive tackle, and first touchdown scored of the season. The first offensive play was a run by Trent Richardson for 9 yards to the left on a pitch play. The first defensive tackle was made by inside linebacker Craig Robertson. The first touchdown scored was a Brandon Weeden pass to tight end Jordan Cameron in the back right corner of the end zone for 7 yards. Here are the results:
First Offensive Play Winners: northern-playalistic, Manly and Loving It, Irish Brown, Jon Stinchcomb, Danny7185, a2342432a, Brownie's Year, pittsburghbrownie, CarrettBagel, BrownsFanAlways, batard, Red-Right-88, Cool J , emily522, and BuenosAires_Dawg each correctly predicted a run by Richardson.
Of that grouping, Manly and Loving It, Irish Brown, and Danny7185 were the three closest people to predicting the yardage and/or direction of the play. Nobody got it exactly right, though.
First Defensive Tackle Winners: Chris Pokorny (me) and Manly and Loving It were the only two people to correctly guess ILB Craig Robertson.
First Touchdown Scored Winners: Weeden2Gordon, crazyL80, Danny7185, Barnestorm, mikeisnowonfir, and emily522 each predicted a touchdown pass from Weeden to Cameron. Weeden2Gordon didn't pick the yards, but did say "corner of the end zone over a defender" when describing the play, so bonus points there.
Overall Winner: Manly and Loving It, Danny7185, and emily522 each finished in two categories, so we'll call it a three-way tie between them. Thanks to everyone who participated!
Here is a little interesting history with Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski: In 2012, the Carolina Panthers (with Chudzinski as offensive coordinator) lost to the Buccaneers 16-10, managing just one touchdown and 10 yards rushing as a team. Last week against the Dolphins, the Browns put up just ten points and one offensive touchdown.
The following week in 2012, the Panthers put up 35 points against the Saints, including 219 yards rushing on the ground. Chudzinski also got off to a similar struggle-then-explosion start as offensive coordinator with the Browns in 2007. That is when the Browns lost the opener to Pittsburgh 35-7, but then defeated the Bengals 51-45. Wicked. Can that trend continue in 2013 for Chudzinski?
Another post-game show of Dawgs By Nature Radio is expected to kick off live again tonight at 8:00 PM EST. Hopefully we're talking about a Browns win instead of more, "what does the future hold for Weeden?" discussion.
Not including a gaffe by me in forgetting to project OLB Barkevious Mingo as an inactive (he was already ruled out), I was perfect on my inactive list projections to start the season. Mingo is back this week, so here are my guesses for the Browns' gameday inactives against the Ravens (there are seven inactives required): QB Brian Hoyer, TE MarQueis Gray, OG Shawn Lauvao, OT Martin Wallace, OL Patrick Lewis, DE Ahtyba Rubin, and OLB Paul Hazel. Does that sound original? Well, it's actually the same list I had last week, minus the Mingo gaffe. The only one I could really see changing would be if the Browns feel MarQuesis Gray is ready to play and be a surprise player who makes some nice catches, but that's probably a pipe dream.
More from Dawgs By Nature:
- Browns vs. Ravens: NFL Week 2 Preview and Prediction
- Browns vs. Ravens: Week 2 TV Coverage
- Browns-Ravens Injury Report: LB Barkevious Mingo to Return, RB Bernard Pierce Questionable
- Browns' Week 2 Scouting Report: Baltimore Ravens
- Browns vs. Ravens: Getting to Know the Enemy With Baltimore Beatdown
- Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens: Statistical Preview
- Krupka's Week 1 Browns Film Room: The Offensive Offense
- 2013 NFL Season: Pokorny's Week 2 NFL Picks