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Analyzing the Game: 2-0 Against Michael Vick

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In my prediction for this game, I took the Browns to lose the game. However, I noted that unlike our game against the Chargers, this was a game in which the Browns would win with the right gameplan. Most of this season, we've faced teams that are solid in their pass defense and their run defense. Against any team that's weak in either of those areas, the Browns have picked up victories. The Falcons were the 31st ranked pass defense heading into the game, and Jeff Davidson didn't wait too long to get him involved in the game. Starting this week, I'm also going to add a "general thoughts" section, which will expand into regular thoughts about the game, rather than specific pros and cons of our victory.

Strong Points(Why We Won the Game)

  1. Player of the Game: Kellen Winslow. He's been nothing but solid this season, but this was arguably his best game of the season, despite not scoring a touchdown. Winslow made two tremendous catches down the field, exploiting an awful matchup by the Falcons in allowing undersized cornerback Allen Rossum a shot at playing him man-to-man. Also, when the Browns offense was playing overly conservative in the second half, Winslow came up with our only true offensive play in the half with a leaping catch on the run. That's a clutch play that puts away a football game. It set the Browns up for a field goal, preventing the Falcons from winning the game with anything but a touchdown.
  2. Containing Mr. Vick: So, Vick ran the ball seven times for 74 yards. That doesn't seem very good, does it? That's what you'd thing if you were a stat-looker only, but that was anything but the case. Vick's two big runs came on two well designed plays that caught our defense off guard. Against Vick, being fooled only twice in a game is pretty darn good. Kamerion Wimbley and Andra Davis were breathing down his neck all game, and if the NFL had a rule where he couldn't throw the ball away as he was being sacked outside of the pocket, we probably would've had four sacks on the day. Leon Williams was impressive as a spy, and only rushing two linemen during obvious third-down passing situations worked out brilliantly.
  3. Sean Jones/Brodney Pool: For the second week in a row, this tandem earned their dues. Jones first-half interception right in front of Alge Crumpler was a heck of a catch; it's a shame we can't block for anything on a defensive return. Vick's biggest weapon is Alge Crumpler, and Pool was assigned to him most of the game. His coverage on Crumpler was very tight, and he deserves more credit than he's getting for his interception at the one-yard line. People are saying he "should have dropped it", but if he had that on his mind before the ball was snapped, it could've been the difference between an knocked down pass and a touchdown for Crumpler. Making a play on the football is always the goal, unless a Hail Mary is thrown. And, to top it off, do you think Pool really expected the Falcons to throw it on fourth-and-one with Vick at quarterback? Major props to Pool.
  4. Back in Good Graces: I think just about every fan of the Browns bashed Ralph Brown in each of the first three games over and over again. I still stand by my opinion from those games, because Brown was the only person in our secondary that was blowing it over and over again. However, he's been much better as of late, and had his best game of the season against the Falcons. He knocked down several passes on key third downs, and if only he could get rid of his stupid finger-wagging, it would've been a complete game from him. Mel Tucker deserves the most credit in the world for what he's done with our secondary.
  5. Plays for Heiden: Week after week, Steve Heiden has been open in numerous situations. This week, he was actually covered fairly well, but he received the ball four times, which I believe is a season high for him. Out tight ends combined for 9 catches for 114 yards. Although Heiden had a drop early in the game, that's something he rarely does. And, to top it off, Heiden of all people nearly blocked a punt (he got his hand on it, but it only counts as a deflection since it went past the line of scrimmage). Of all the people on our team, I didn't picture Heiden getting to the punter that quick.
  6. Return of Roye, McGinest: Both veterans came in handy against Vick, and no doubt made containing Vick and Warrick Dunn a pleasurable sight to see. Not only did they play well, but Grantham rotated people into the game on a constant basis to keep everyone fresh and confuse the Falcons with our different personnel packages.
  7. Manning-Like: Charlie Frye's shotgun play-fake to Droughns, and then throwing of a touchdown to Braylon Edwards over a defender's hand looked exactly like the type of play Peyton Manning does. Don't get the wrong idea - in no way am I comparing Frye to Manning. I'm simply surprised with the nature of the play, because it doesn't seem like a play that "Cleveland" would run.
Weak Points(Why We Could Have Lost The Game)
  1. Goat of the Game: Reuben Droughns. It doesn't seem right that Droughns has three touchdowns already this season, which is one more than he had all of last season. However, his running ability has not been anywhere near par, and it goes beyond the struggles of our offensive line. The Falcons are an "ok" run defense, but for the first time this season, Droughns had some holes here and there against a defense that wasn't horrible. Unfortunately, as soon as Droughns was hit by the first, undersized defender seven yards down the field, he was tripped up and stopped. Are you kidding me? Isn't that where Droughns is supposed to be effective, where he can pound the second- or third-levels? And, to top it off, when the Browns were rolling 14-0 and already in field goal range, Droughns coughed it up on a play where he had a ton of room to run. Right after that, Davidson's aggressiveness went down tremendously.
  2. Hanging On to the Ball: Twice during this game, Frye held on to the ball way too long - once it was his fault, and the other I blame on the playcall. Before the first half ended, Frye rolled around a little and waited forever, getting ready to launch a Hail Mary. Instead, he kept the ball even longer and was stripped. Luckily for the Browns, the Falcons didn't have any linebackers spying on Frye, because without any of our quick offensive players close to Frye (only our linemen were around him), the Falcons would've walked into the end zone. Thankfully, by the time they were able to attempt all their crazy laterals, our own offensive weapons caught up with Atlanta and chased them out of bound. On the other instance, Frye stood at our one-yard line forever, on a play that I feel was horribly designed. It needs to be a quick hitter, considering how concerning our offensive line play still is. On replay, one receiver went deep, and the other two went pretty far down the field before making their cuts and even attempting to look for a possible pass. By then, Frye was already being thrown to the ground.
  3. Winslow's Penalty: If Winslow would've given a cheap shot to someone like Quincy Morgan or Gerard Warren, I honestly wouldn't have cared too much. Doing what he did to Chris Crocker wasn't very bright though, because it's never good to cost your team a 15-yard penalty, or building a negative reputation.
  4. Screen Passes to Jurevicius: Can anyone explain why we ran two wide receiver screens to Joe Jurevicius, someone who isn't meant to be a guy who makes a catch and then takes off? We ran the play twice, and it resulted in two catches for four yards. Those plays need to be saved for Dennis Northcutt. The only times I'd like to see that play for Jurevicius would be when we're within ten yards of the end zone.
  5. Screen Plays in General: Chalk it up again: three weeks in a row that we haven't even attempted a screen pass. For that matter, three weeks in a row in which a team hasn't even attempted a screen play against us either. I know Droughns isn't the quickest guy, but he has been rather effective on screen plays once he's able to reach the secondary in the past.
General Thoughts(Random Tidbits on the Game)
  1. Did He Really?: Although it doesn't seem like it, Falcons wide receiver Roddy White actually had five catches for 99 yards against us. That's the most yards the Browns have allowed to a receiver since we faced the Denver Broncos, when Javon Walker had nine catches for 107 yards.
  2. Atlanta's Fault: Why about our defense do teams not understand? Statistically, we're one of the worst run defenses in the league, but one of the best pass defenses. And, statistically, the Falcons are the best run offense in the league, and one of the lower pass offenses. Well, for some reason, the Falcons threw the ball 40 times and only ran it 21 times with Warrick Dunn.
  3. Taking the Safety: On a post-game show on Monday, Jim Donovan asked if Frye should've taken the safety. That question doesn't have any logic, because you never tell a quarterback to take a sack in the end zone unless you feel you're going to get picked with a throw. The real question should've been this: should Dave Zastudil have taken a safety? Teams have done it before, and it only costs your team two points right off the bat. Looking back, it would've looked like a better move. However, I agree with our decision to punt it away - next time, do it out of bounds though.
  4. Offensive Strategy: The Browns are 2-for-3 in our offensive mentality under Jeff Davidson, where we take a lead and then sit on it the rest of the game. It has paid off twice, but it is very frustrating as a fan who wants us to exploit our potential offensive weapons and attempt to put a dagger into opposing defenses to watch other teams creep back into the game. If it works though, I can't argue against it.
  5. Kind of Lucky: I didn't really want to mention this because it's sort of a "negative" for us, but Ashley Lelie dropped two passes where we were beaten, with one of them being a potential touchdown in the end zone. Thankfully, we were facing the Falcons.
  6. Gunning It: Why does Vick feel the need to gun all of his passes? I don't mean "Brett Favre gun", I mean "uncomfortable catching gun". And, Jim Mora Jr. has been ridiculed for his comments of not blaming Vick for his fumble at the end of the game. I have seen Vick carry the ball that low and stumble so many times late in a Falcons game, meaning it's not excusable. Mora needs to get his offensive system together, and fast.
This week, the Browns are taking on the Steelers and the Buckeyes are facing the Wolverines. I know that not all Browns fans like Ohio State, but most of us do, and it would be a very good weekend for us to see both of our teams win. And, I've been stating this for weeks, and I'll state it again just so I can brag when it happens: the Browns will have a play designed for Cribbs to throw the football this week. I've been calling for it since around Week 4, since we have to be saving the play for a special occasion. And, with the way our team already seems pumped up about this game, we need to bring out all the stops. Just think of the possibility: with a win, we'll have a better record than the Steelers for the first time in years.