Browns vs. Ravens Preview

The Cleveland Browns are currently 0-2. It’s not what the fans want to see but the team gave up losses to Tampa Bay and Kansas City in their first two games. After anticipating a better start, the Browns are in a familiar position of being winless in their first two games.

Against Kansas City and Tampa Bay, the Browns were playing teams that struggled last year and these were supposed to be the “easy games.” The Browns failed to win the “easy games and it won’t be any easier against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday afternoon.

In the first two games, turnovers plagued the Browns as interceptions and fumbles led to lost leads and possessions. Peyton Hillis and Jerome Harrison lost the ball numerous times against Tampa Bay and interceptions thrown by Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace in the first two games were costly as well.

Turnovers will need to be kept at a minimum if the Browns want to have a chance against the Ravens defense. Over the past few years, the Ravens have one of the best defenses in the NFL and can make weak teams pay for their mistakes. Wallace will have to avoid throwing the ball into double coverage or the Ravens secondary will have another great highlight for every NFL highlight show for the next week. The Ravens are not afraid to hit hard and with Ray Lewis still among the league’s best linebackers, the Browns will have to hold onto the ball and not fumble.

On offense, the Browns have not utilized Josh Cribbs in the wildcat much but using it more against the Ravens defense could be a turning point in the game. The Browns wore down defenses last season by utilizing a combination of Cribbs and Jerome Harrison in the wildcat and they will want to wear out the Ravens defense early on. When used effectively, the wildcat can spread any defense apart and the Browns will need to create holes and get receivers open when utilizing this formation. The Ravens will need to be spread out on defense if the Browns want to keep this one close.

In previous matchups, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has started out slow against the Browns but tends to play better in the second half. With Derrick Mason as one of his most reliable and favorite targets, Flacco has proven he can adjust at halftime and deteriorate a lead on any napping defense. Flacco has made use of Mason and Anquan Boldin this season and can use both of these weapons to wear down the Browns secondary. TJ Ward and Joe Haden have shown promise in the Browns secondary but Flacco will not be afraid to challenge them.

The Browns have done well against the run game this season but Ray Rice will not be easy to take down. With a strong offensive line, Rice could have a lot of holes to run through if the Browns are not careful. The Browns will need to keep linebackers in the box or else Rice will have a career day against the Browns.

Even though this game is a divisional matchup, there will still be more pressure on the Browns to win this game. After all of the time spent on improving the team this year, starting off 0-2 is a disappointment and President Mike Holmgren and General Manager Tom Heckert have proven they are not afraid to make changes. Both have worked hard to bring in different players this year and if the team continues to struggle, head coach Eric Mangini could be next on the list of changes to be made. Mangini finished strong last year but a slow start is not what the Browns management was hoping for. Mangini has been given an opportunity to revive the offense with added offensive weapons and has failed to do so. Holmgren and Heckert are both committed to putting together a winning football team and will find a way to do so with or without Mangini. This game will be important for Mangini’s future and the direction the team will go in.

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~ by jeffrsabo on September 26, 2010.

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