Sunday the Browns will be facing their third straight team that has registered only one win or less. That's a stretch that the Browns, in theory, should go 3-0. Well, after dropping the first game, and winning the second, the Browns can now go 2-1 over that stretch. Not bad, but not ideal.
With the Buccaneers heading into Cleveland on Sunday, here's my three reasons to be optimistic for a Browns W/.
1. 32nd and 32nd
Heading into Sunday the Buccaneers will be ranked 32nd in total offense, and 32nd in total defense. Translation: that’s not good.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself, as we’ve seen in the last two weeks bad teams have some success against the Browns. Last week the Browns defense came to play, while the offense sputtered most of the way through the game. This week they get another bad team for the third week in a row.
Tampa Bay struggles to stop anyone on defense, and can’t really move the ball on offense. They’ll likely be without starting running back Doug Martin, who was in a walking boot earlier this week, though he's listed as questionable.
Another reason to be optimistic? The Bucs rank 27th in points scored, at just 19.0 points per game. On the other side of the ball, they’re giving up 31.9 points per game, good for 32nd in the league.
So, moral of the story is, the Bucs struggle to move the ball and struggle to score. They also struggle to stop teams, and struggle with not giving up points.
Sounds like a decent recipe for a Browns victory.
2. Kyle Shanahan Adjustments
One thing that this Cleveland Browns coaching staff has done well all season, is make adjustments. If you look at some of the halftime adjustments this staff has made, it’s truly incredible stuff. Look at what they did against the Steelers in week 1.
For that reason, I’m saying that this week will be no different. One thing we’ve not seen from this Browns team is the ability to run the past two weeks. Sure, the injury to Alex Mack has been a big blow, but they’re flat out just not getting it done right now.
Enter Kyle Shanahan. Yes, we’ve seen his commitment to the run so far this year. But on Sunday against the Bucs, I expect him to mix it up a little bit. Despite not having much success at all on the ground the past two weeks, he remained steadfast in his ground game commitment. A lot can be said for that. However, on Sunday I expect to see some more air in the offense.
In the aforementioned bullet, I said Tampa Bay has the worst defense in terms of yards per game. What also is true is that they’re pass defense is extraordinarily suspect. Not only is Tampa’s secondary giving up 286 yards per game through the air, good for 30th in the NFL, but opposing QB’s are having a field day against them. Opposing QB’s have averaged a QB rating of 107.0 against the Bucs this year. Make of that what you will, QB rating is a much maligned stat, but the bottom line is, that’s really bad.
I expect Shanahan to put a gameplan in place that will still rely on the run, but I expect to see more passing. A lot of the big pass plays have been set up by the play action so far for the Browns. I expect to see more short to intermediate straight pass attempts to get Brian Hoyer into a rhythm early, and often.
3. Bucs' QB Situation
The Bucs don’t necessarily have a ton options right now at the quarterback. They started the year with Josh McCown under center, but he’s been out with a thumb injury since week 3. McCown is Football Outsiders' worst rated passer in the league.
Mike Glennon will be the signal caller for the Buccaneers on Sunday. He hasn’t been a whole lot better. Glennon currently ranks 25th in Football Outsiders’ DYAR rankings.
Tampa Bay QB’s have only thrown 10 TD passes, compared to 8 INT’s. If the Browns can dial up the defense they played last week, it could be a long Sunday for the Buccaneers.