The Cleveland Browns look to be heading in to a downward spiral. Though it is sad to say, it couldn’t be more true. This Thursday night on NFL Network, the Browns travel to M&T Bank Stadium to face their division rivals, the Baltimore Ravens. Start holding your breath now.
Against the Buffalo Bills, the Browns looked dazed and confused. A couple events like CJ Spiller‘s injury and multiple penalties against the Bills actually kept Cleveland in the game. The Browns’ running game sputtered and wasn’t even given a chance to get going. Poor conservative play calling once again doomed the Browns. If they are to have any chance at all against a tough veteran Ravens defense, different decisions must be made. It is going to take some creative thinking by Pat Shurmur and his coaching staff to even stay competitive in this game. Here are my keys to just staying in the game, let alone winning.
Trent Richardson must be used in ways that are going to play to his strengths. In a league full of copy cats, why not take a few pages out of the Ravens playbook? Give them a taste of their own medicine. The way the Ravens use Ray Rice is the way the Browns should use Richardson. Cleveland has to find a way to get Richardson the ball in open space.
Brandon Weeden has the smarts and arm to beat the Baltimore defense. He just needs to get his confidence up. Once again, play to the strengths. 95% of the time at Oklahoma State, Weeden found himself in the shot gun formation dissecting defenses. Why not let him play out of the gun and more up tempo? Let him play with what he’s comfortable in. What do you have to lose?
Please just catch the ball. You are professional athletes playing in the most prestigious league in all of the world, catch the ball when it’s thrown to you. Receivers get paid millions of dollars to catch an oblong leather ball. Catch it. Somebody has to step up in the Browns wide receiver/tight end group. My dark horse is Jordan Cameron. At 6’5″ and 250 lbs, Cameron showed his ability last Sunday. Put him on the field and throw the ball to him. I promise he will catch it and pick up yards after.
Josh Cribbs needs to change the field position around. Being backed up inside of their own 20 yard line is not going to cut it. The home crowd is going to be fired up and loud. It is imperative that the Browns have great starting field position for most of their drives. How about a return to the house Mr.Cribbs?
Defensively, there has to be a play maker. The Cleveland defense must find a way to force a turnover or two. The defensive line needs to get as much pressure on Joe Flacco as possible and make their presence felt. The Browns did not record a sack last week. Where is Jabaal Sheard? Flacco will pick a part the Joe Haden-less secondary if he has all day to throw the ball.
Somebody please stop the run. I know it’s a lot to ask, but please stop the run. Ten years ago, a guy named Jamal Lewis for the Ravens made a bold statement to the Browns before the game. He said that he was going to break the NFL single game rushing record. Four hours later, he did and embarrassed the Cleveland defense for 295 yards. Let’s hope Rice doesn’t get the same mind set.
These are keys to just staying in the game. Far more must done to actually win the game. It’s not going to get any easier with facing the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants in two weeks. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to have a little luck on our side too. Do you remember the Phil Dawson bar?
Ryan Ruiz – Cleveland Browns Writer
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