As devoted Cleveland Browns fans, we can only hope that the San Diego Chargers are jet-lagged and do not bring their “A” game tomorrow. On paper, the Browns looked over-matched all across the board. Does Cleveland stand a chance at home on a possibly cold, rainy day? If they do the following things, then yes.
The Browns need to dig deep down and find away to lock down Antonio Gates. The 10-year veteran is Philip Rivers‘ number one target and safety valve. The Cleveland defense needs to get physical and jam him at the line whenever possible. Most likely a linebacker or safety is going to be responsible for Gates. Take page out of the Chargers’ book and stick to him like glue.
Rivers and the Chargers’ offense are known for putting long and well orchestrated drives together. Cleveland needs to create a turnover on at least one of those future drives. The ball could be slippery so a tip drill interception is very possible. The Chargers’ field general likes to step up in the pocket and really hangs tough in there. Dick Jauron would be smart to bring some defensive back heat like he did a week ago with Sheldon Brown. That play resulted in a turnover. Whichever way they do it, Cleveland must find a way to stop drives with authority, not just punts.
The Browns must use their strengths and take what the defense gives them. If Josh Cooper is wide open most of the time, then by all means, get him the ball. If there is a man-to-man match up, then take a shot down field. Sticking to a game plan that is not working will not win them this game. Pat Shurmur‘s stubbornness and conservative style will get them nowhere in this contest. If something is working, the Browns must not shy away from it. It is going to be difficult to run the football as the Chargers are ranked second in run defense overall.
The one thing that is so disheartening to the Dawg Pound fans is the Browns could very easily be 3-4 or 4-3 on the season. If LJ Fort hangs on to that ball in the end zone, Cleveland wins week one. If Joe Haden does not get suspended, the Browns would have won at least two of the four games he was out. And finally, if Josh Gordon has a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses on last week, Cleveland beats the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. However, ifs, ands, and buts, are not reality. The reality is the Browns are 1-6 and need a win very badly. Lets hope the Browns can spook the Chargers three days before Halloween.
Ryan Ruiz – Cleveland Browns Writer
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