Why the Cleveland Browns can march to a 2-1 record
By: Michael Welsh
We enter week 3 in the NFL this week and the Cleveland Browns sit at 1-1 on the season, tied for first place in the AFC North. After a sluggish win against the Texans in week two, Cleveland looks to bounce back for their first convincing win of the 2021 season.
Rookie Justin Fields will be making his first career start against the Browns on Sunday. There have been criticisms of how soft Joe Woods’ defense has looked, especially against the Texans in week two. There appears to be a lot of zone being played and just an overall conservative approach. There are a lot of new faces on defense, so maybe it is taking some time for them to gel. Either way, this game should be one where things look different on the defensive side of the ball. Let’s take a look at the winning formula for the Browns this week.
Pressure, pressure, pressure
It feels like the Browns have barely blitzed at all this season. In addition to that, the defensive line hasn’t gotten the pressure that most expected at this point. With a rookie quarterback under center, it will be crucial to put pressure on him multiple times throughout the game. Expect more safety blitzes from Grant Delpit, who had an impressive debut last week with one sack and one tackle for a loss. It’ll be important to rattle Fields early and force him to make mistakes. Joe Woods cannot be timid this week. Dial it up.
Hit a few big plays
After Baker Mayfield dislocated his shoulder last week, the play-calling from Kevin Stefanski became a lot more reserved in order to protect the injury. Jarvis Landry is out this week with an injury, but Odell Beckham Jr. is expected to make his season debut, and it would be wise to try and hit a few big plays with him early. If he does play, the Bears probably won’t expect anything dynamic right out of the gate, which is why hitting a double move early on could be beneficial. Aside from OBJ, don’t be surprised if rookie Demetric Felton gets more involved this week too.
Get a lead going into halftime
Momentum is huge in football games. Last week, the Browns went into halftime tied with the Texans. That is better than being down, of course, but it would be ideal if Cleveland has the lead at halftime. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt absolutely thrive in the second half, so having a lead means you can start feeding them the ball earlier. Plus it will be good for the team’s confidence as a whole to have a lead and then convincingly beat a team that is inferior.
Don’t give the ball away
In both games this season, the Browns have had multiple giveaways. Doing that each game will lead to more losses than victories, so they will have to clean it up against the Bears. No fumbles, no interceptions, just play mistake-free football. This is a game where Baker Mayfield needs multiple touchdowns and no interceptions, and everyone just needs to take care of the ball.