Welcome back to another one of our new weekly features here at Dawgs By Nature. As I described in my introduction piece, I hope you enjoy the additional content and different formats on the site. Turn the Page Tuesday and Stats That Matter seemed to be received quite well to start off with but now we have to look at some worries.
In Week 4, the Cleveland Browns face off with the Atlanta Falcons in a matchup that looked like a pretty easy win for the visitors when the schedule came out. Unfortunately, things change quickly from week to week in the NFL and now we have some concerns going into the game.
Two weeks ago, Cleveland’s defense was healthy with a lot of blown coverages. This week, a ton of starters are either on injured reserve or didn’t participate in practice on Wednesday. While it is easy to say “next man up,” the defensive line could be without three of its four starters and at least one key backup leaving Isaac Rochell and Alex Wright starting at defensive end.
Third Pass Game Weapon
As Barry shared this morning, the Browns receiver group has been hit or miss (mostly miss) outside of Amari Cooper. Last week, TE David Njoku stepped up as the second target for QB Jacoby Brissett but having another option is key for the team’s passing attack. While Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb can provide some of that out of the backfield, Cleveland needs someone who can make plays down the field if Cooper and Njoku are covered or need a breather.
Teams now have three games of film on this version of Kevin Stefanski’s offense, getting another receiver involved will be huge to keeping defenses off balance.
Long Layoff and Overconfidence
The Browns have had a mini-bye week since their Thursday Night Football win but that layoff hasn’t seemed to do much to get players back to health and could lead to a little rust. There is also a concern that players will have a bit of a letdown game after defeating their division rivals in Week 3. While they are not huge factors, given the injuries and the talent on the other team (coming up next), they could play a role in a close game.
The Trio of Falcons plus Mobile QB
Atlanta has three weapons on offense that are quite good and could be very difficult for Cleveland’s defense. RB Cordarrelle Patterson is third in the league in rushing while TE Kyle Pitts and WR Drake London are towering pass catchers standing at 6’6” and 6’4”, respectively. Pitts has had a slow start to his second season but had five receptions for 87 yards last week. London already has 16 catches for 214 yards and a touchdown in three games as a rookie.
The versatility of Patterson (a former wide receiver) could give the Browns linebackers and safeties fits while the size of the two pass catchers could lead to a lot of jump balls. Add to that the mobility of QB Marcus Mariota and you have a difficult matchup for a beat-up defense.
The Weekly Worries article is always going to be looking on the negative side of things or things that could go wrong. While a majority of my writing will be positive and hopeful, this is a chance to unload the negatives.
What is your biggest worry for Week 4?