Mike Glennon & the Browns’ Defensive Changes
- Mike Glennon will make his first start since 2017. The former third-round pick did some good things in Tampa Bay, but became a backup when the team drafted Jamies Winston as the 1st overall pick of the draft. Glennon actually scored a 3-year, $45 million deal with the Bears in 2017, but it wasn’t long before he was benched in favor of Mitchell Trubisky, a 2nd overall pick.
- It’ll be interesting to see how Glennon performs. At his best, he had a big arm and liked to sling it downfield. This week, he said, “I’m just going to go out there, have fun, let it rip, and see what happens. We’re a 1-9 football team and I’m just going to do whatever I can to help us win.” He has more experience than any quarterback on the roster, but he’s not playing with an experienced group and hasn’t had much work with the receivers.
- The Jaguars’ top receiver, D.J. Chark, is out. Chris Conley is also out. Laviska Shenault, a second round pick, is set to return after missing two games to injury. He could see a lot of action on the outside, especially with the Browns being without Denzel Ward. The big question is, “Do we really think Glennon and Shenault are going to have some magic in them with so little time to work together?”
- If the Jaguars were smart — which I don’t know that they are, given how their games have gone — they’ll run the ball with James Robinson. Much like the Eagles, Jacksonville has a solid yards per carry average (4.48 YPC, ranking 9th in the NFL), but average just 97.3 yards rushing per game (ranked 28th in the NFL).
- Jacksonville’s offensive line struggles in pass protection, which offers Cleveland another opportunity to have a good game up front despite being without DE Myles Garrett. Losing DE Porter Gustin hurts for depth purposes, though, because it means you’re relying on Olivier Vernon and Adrian Clayborn to take a lot of reps. Jacksonville’s tackles have struggled this season, though, and one of their most consistent pass protectors — left guard Andrew Norwell — is out this week to injury.
- With Sione Takitaki out, I think it simply means more playing time for Jacob Phillips, who returned last week from injury. At cornerback, Terrance Mitchell will start at one outside corner spot, and then Kevin Johnson, Tavierre Thomas, and M.J. Stewart will rotate at the outside and slot spots. Lastly, Andrew Sendejo is a little banged up at free safety, so we might see Karl Joseph get some reps there since Sheldrick Redwine is already out.
- Normally, I’d be very concerned about Cleveland’s defensive absences. While I’m still on-guard, if there was ever a week to “deal with it,” it’s this week against an offense like Jacksonville’s.
The Weather is Nice & the Jaguars’ Defense is Also Thin
- After three weeks of high wind and rain, the Browns travel to Jacksonville, where the weather is expected to be 73 degrees with 5 MPH wind. Baker Mayfield and the rest of the offense couldn’t be happier, I’m sure.
- Let’s not forget that prior to the bad weather stretch, Mayfield had his remarkable 5-touchdown performance against the Bengals. He must be itching to throw the ball more, and the receivers are salivating at those opportunities too.
- On top of that, it should benefit the running game too. We’ve seen Cleveland’s ground game struggle a bit in the first half of games the past two weeks because defenses have been able to load the box, knowing that weather would limit the team’s ability to throw the ball. That isn’t the case this week, so if Jacksonville does load the box, Kevin Stefanski will have no problem going pass-happy like he did against the Colts earlier this season.
- Making matters worse for Jacksonville is that they are hurting bad at the cornerback position. All of their regular cornerbacks are out due to injury. Undrafted rookies Luq Barcoo and Josiah Scott, who have a combined 24 career NFL snaps, will see significant action at one of the cornerback spots this week. Greg Mabin, who was just claimed off waivers this week, will probably have to play a bit. Tre Herndon, normally fourth on the depth chart, has been starting and not drawing good reviews from Jaguars fans.
Jaguars Cornerback situation vs Browns this week:— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) November 27, 2020
1. CJ Henderson - IR
2. Sidney Jones - Out
3. DJ Hayden - IR
4. Tre Herndon - 2018 UDFA
5. Chris Claybrooks - IR
6. Luq Barcoo - 2020 UDFA
7. Josiah Scott - 2020 4th Rd
8. Greg Mabin - 2017 UDFA
Other Nuggets to Keep an Eye On
- SS Ronnie Harrison will face his former team and is hunting for revenge. It’s great to have a player fired up when he’s a) already been playing well, and b) the opposition isn’t very good.
- LB Joe Schobert anchors the middle of the Jaguars’ defense, so I’m sure he’ll be a little fired up to face Cleveland too. However, as much as I liked Schobert’s time here, he was not a dominant linebacker by any means. Like, think back to his time in Cleveland — could you imagine him coming up to make great tackles against the likes of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt?
- K Aldrick Rosas is being called up by Jacksonville to be their kicker this week as a COVID replacement. He’s made 82.5% of his field goals in his career and 91.6% of his extra points. He played in one game for Jacksonville this season and was 4-of-5, including a make from 50 yards.
- DE Josh Allen had been one of Jacksonville’s better pass rushers this year, but he is now on IR. LB Myles Jack has been having a fantastic year for the Jaguars’ defense, though, so if there is one player to keep an eye on, it is definitely him.
Here are predictions from multiple staff members at DBN.
Chris Pokorny: “Cleveland’s depth being depleted defensively make it hard to envision a dominant game on that side of the ball, but I think the offense is so eager to explode. Baker Mayfield has not been able to throw the ball much the past 3 games (0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions) due to an incredible streak of bad weather. The Browns probably have a lot of well-schemed pass plays they’ve gameplanned for the past three weeks and haven’t been able to use, so they can break them out this week now. If that takes people out of the box too, Cleveland will be more than happy to run the ball en route to victory” Browns 34, Jaguars 17
Thomas Moore: “After three weeks of poor weather and two weeks of dealing head-on with COVID-19, the Browns finally have a chance to breathe on Sunday against Jacksonville. Gametime temperatures in the mid-70s combined with the Jaguars being without a host of cornerbacks should help the Browns offense get back on track. Facing a Jaguars offense led by career backup Mike Glennon should help a Browns defense dealing with its own issues in the secondary, not to mention at the defensive end position. Add it all up, and this has the makings of one of those college football games where a team schedules a cupcake the week before a key matchup.” Browns 28, Jaguars 7
Barry Shuck: “Despite the loss of Denzel Ward, Sione Takitaki and Myles Garrett on defense, there is decent depth to handle things. Olivier Vernon, Porter Gustin and Adrian Clayborn will need to have a huge game once again. The Jaguars are a dumpster fire and will compete with the Jets for the right to draft Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence. Jacksonville is bottom third in pass defense and scoring offensive points. Their only saving grace is they are fifth in rushing defense and have the sixth most sacks (30). This reminds me of Philly and their vaulted pass rush and their ability to get to the QB or at least flush him out. The Browns will need to complete short passes and protect Baker Mayfield. If this happens, the score won’t even be close.” Browns 31, Jaguars 17
rufio: “Everyone in the league is hurting due to injuries and Covid at this point in the season, but we are poised to weather the storm. Kevin Stefanski has the team believing and buying in, and we’ve seen the “next man up” mentality on display as our backups have filled in for missing starters throughout the year.
This game is no different, and our key pieces on offense are mostly available for the game. In (relatively) good weather and against a middling pass defense, Baker and company shine. The defense ends up missing a lot of key players, but does enough to hold on.” Browns 35, Jaguars 27
Who do you think will win, Browns fans? Let us know in the comments section below.