By Tony Grossi
Browns vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, 1 p.m., in Cleveland Browns Stadium
Last game: Beat Carolina Panthers, 27-21, Dec. 2, in Kansas City.
Coach: Romeo Crennel, 4-11, second year; 28-51 overall.
Series record: Tied, 10-10-2.
Last meeting: Chiefs won, 16-14, Sept. 19, 2010, in Cleveland.
League rankings: Offensive is 21st overall (fifth rushing, 29th passing), defense is 16th (26th rushing, ninth passing) and turnover differential is minus-21.
Offensive overview: At this stage of the season, after a league-high 32 offensive turnovers, coordinator Brian Daboll is relying on one thing his team does well – run the ball. Daboll has a thunder-and-lightning package of Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis to set up a play-action passing game. Charles and Hillis seldom are in the backfield together, however, as Hillis has settled in as a short-yardage runner. Charles is electric and can score from any place on the field. Daboll doesn’t ask anything more from quarterback Brady Quinn than dink and dunk and protect the ball. The top receiving targets are wideout Dwayne Bowe, tight end Tony Moeaki, Charles and utility player Dexter McCluster, who may line up as a Wildcat QB and also receive straight handoffs.
Defensive overview: There’s quite a bit of talent on this side of the ball, but it hasn’t translated into good team defense in Crennel’s 3-4 scheme. Linebackers coach Gary Gibbs was appointed coordinator when Crennel gave up double duty. Like every 3-4, the pass rush comes from the outside linebackers, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Houston (10 sacks), incidentally, was the player the Chiefs selected with the third-round pick from the Browns when the Browns moved back up in the first round for Phil Taylor after they had moved down in the Atlanta trade. There is solid talent in every area of the defense – rookie nose tackle Dontari Poe up front, inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, and strong safety Eric Berry and cornerback Brandon Flowers in the secondary. But the unit has been poor against the run and turnovers have been infrequent.
Special teams overview: Kicker Ryan Succop is 25 of 28 on field goals with a long of 52 yards. He has 22 touchbacks on kickoffs. Punter Dustin Colquitt is 14th in gross average (46.8 yards) and 13th in net (40.4). His 33 punts inside the 20 lead the NFL. Punt returner Javier Arenas has a 9.7-yard average. Kick returner Shaun Draughn has 23.5 average. The coverage units are below average and have given up an 88-yard punt return for a touchdown to Buffalo’s Leodis McKelvin.
Players to watch:
1. RB Jamaal Charles: Shifty, quick, fast, and has excellent cutback ability. He already has eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing for the third year in a row (when healthy). He has rush for over 100 yards on Baltimore and Pittsburgh and hit New Orleans for 233.
2. OLB Justin Houston: Acquired with a third-round pick from the Browns in 2011, the pass-rush complement to Tamba Hali has 15.5 sacks in his past 16 games, including 10 this year.
3. QB Brady Quinn: In his finest moment in the NFL, he calmed his team during a trying weekend and produced his first win with the Chiefs, completing a team record 82.6 percent of his passes (19 of 23) for 201 yards and two TDs in a 27-21 win over Carolina. It was the first game Quinn tossed a touchdown pass since Dec. 6, 2009 while with the Browns.
Injury report: FS Kendrick Lewis (shoulder) missed last game. SS Abe Elam (quad) left the last game. ILB Derrick Johnson (hamstring) and CB Brandon Flowers (hamstring) could be limited this week.
Small world: Crennel was 24-40 as Browns coach from 2005-08 … General Manager Scott Pioli worked in the Browns’ personnel department from 1992 to ’95 … Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll held the same position with the Browns in 2009-10 … Assistant Head Coach Maurice Carthon was Browns offensive coordinator in 2005-06 … Defensive line coach Anthony Pleasant was a Browns’ third-round draft pick in 1990 and played through ’95 … Former Browns players on the roster: running back Peyton Hillis, quarterback Brady Quinn, defensive tackle Shaun Smith, safety Abe Elam and cornerback Travis Daniels.
|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 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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