By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Browns vs. Buffalo Bills … in Four Downs
First down: Jordan Cameron’s calling.
When the Bills intercepted Joe Flacco five times last Sunday, they received career days from rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso and defensive back Aaron Williams, who each turned in two interceptions. Because of injuries, Williams was moved from safety to cornerback. He may be needed in that role again Thursday night. While ball-hawking safety Jairus Byrd did practice this short work week, he has not played in a game all season while working up a snit after being given the franchise tag in March. Cameron, meanwhile, is keeping company with the NFL’s best tight ends, Antonio Gates of San Diego and Jimmy Graham of New Orleans.
Second down: A statement game.
There is no doubt the Browns’ defense will be pumped to show the football world that it’s a force to be reckoned with. Sure to be revved up are tackle Phil Taylor, linebackers D’Qwell Jackson and Barkevious Mingo (making his first prime-time appearance as a rookie), and cornerback Joe Harden (seeking his first pick 6 in seven years as a cornerback in college and the NFL). The challenge for coordinator Ray Horton is to keep his unit disciplined while maintaining its aggressiveness.
Third down: What you talking about Willis?
Running back Willis McGahee made it clear this week he has no hard feelings about the Bills, who traded him after the 2006 season. On the contrary, McGahee knows deep down the Bills did him a favor. He went on to experience the playoffs with the Ravens and then the Broncos. But there’s always something special about playing one’s former team. And McGahee has been able to knock off some rust in his two appearances with the Browns. Say, imagine what quarterback Brian Hoyer could do with a productive running game.
Fourth down: Getting over the hump.
Since the start of the 2008 season, the Browns have spent exactly one week with a winning record. That was after they edged the Miami Dolphins, 17-16, in Game 3 on Sept. 25, 2011. They moved to 2-1 on a Colt McCoy-to-Mohamed Massaquoi touchdown pass with 43 seconds left in the game. The giddiness lasted all of seven days as the Browns were thumped by Tennessee in their next game, 31-13. So it has been 33 games at .500 or worse ever since.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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