"Powerful offense, porous defense."
Though there have been improvements this season on the defensive line, at least until the chemistry builds up (if it does), we're going to have to rely on shootouts. Considering our offense can't score on every possession to match what our defense gives up, we need an X-factor. That X-factor is none other than Joshua Cribbs.
When we lost to the Steelers 31-28 last November, how many solid offensive drives did we have?
One. That's right -- just one. It came on our first offensive drive of the game, consisting of 16 plays for 71 yards, and lasting nearly ten minutes. After that, the offense was shut down and the defense really couldn't stop Ben Roethlisberger. We survived on the kick returns of Cribbs.
After our first touchdown, the Steelers kicked a field goal. On the ensuing kickoff, Cribbs returned the ball 90 yards, setting up an easy touchdown pass to Lawrence Vickers. We later scored another touchdown after great field position following a Brodney Pool interception.
In the second half, the Steelers scored two touchdowns to take the lead. That lead didn't last too long though, as Cribbs had his ever-so-memorable 100-yard tiptoe kick return for a touchdown, putting us back on top at the time. Without Cribbs' ability, we very well could've lost 35-14. After missing last week's game against the Dallas Cowboys, fans have an even greater appreciation. Syndric Steptoe and Gerard Lawson were frustrating to watch on returns, because you could visualize Cribbs taking the same kicks an extra 20 yards at least every time. The big question, then, is this: is he ready?
"I'm ready," Cribbs vowed. "I feel I can be a difference in the game."
In order for the Browns to beat the Steelers, we're going to need more contributions from Cribbs than just kick and punt returns. We're going to need him on offense too.
With Donte Stallworth doubtful and unlikely to play for the second week in a row, we're in need of an extra weapon for Anderson. That has to involve Rob Chudzinski's "Flash" package that was on display throughout all of training camp. Although Cribbs has not had a lot of practice time lately, this is arguably the biggest game of the season for the Browns, and you need to bring everything you have to the table. I'm not saying every play needs to be a reverse to Cribbs or an option pass down the field to Braylon Edwards, but something needs to be in place to keep the Steelers' secondary off-guard. Head coach Romeo Crennel has already stated that Cribbs may not play the gunner position on kick return in hopes that he can be used in some of the offensive sets.
In the national spotlight, there's no better player than Cribbs to alleviate the pressure facing the rest of the team. Hopefully it's enough to finally defeat the Steelers, and regain our side of pride in this heated rivalry.
"Powerful offense, porous defense...and a great special teams."