Browns-Dolphins: Don's Game Preview

The Dolphins present challenges on both sides of the ball, with a ferocious Cameron Wake-led defense, and a balanced offense. Will the Browns be up to the task?

BEREA — If past games are any indication, a pick-six, or some facsimile there of, will happen to the Browns on Sunday, as they travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins at 1 p.m.

Why? Colt McCoy is not playing.

In the six games McCoy did not play this season, the Browns had three interceptions returned for a touchdown and a fourth returned to the 1-yard-line that set up a touchdown. Jake Delhomme threw three of those interceptions and Seneca Wallace threw one.

With McCoy's ankle still not 100 percent, the "Delhomme-or-Wallace" debate was front and center this week. Both players appear healed from their respective ankle injuries. Yet for the second consecutive week, the Browns are giving Delhomme the starting nod. When comparing season statistics, Wallace is 63-for-100 passing for 693 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions while Delhomme is 57-for-95 passing for 596 yards with six interceptions and one touchdown. It doesn't take a math genius to figure out that Delhomme has a poor touchdown-to-interception ratio.

"At the end of the day, (Delhomme) has the ball in his hands," Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said. "That's what I tell those guys. You're going to have the rush on you and sometimes those guys, they don't want to surrender when it's time to surrender sometimes. Take an incompletion, take a sack if you have to take a sack, but you're not going to be able to make the impossible play.  Go ahead and kill it and move on to the next play.  You're not going to lose the game because of incompletions very often."

Across the line of scrimmage, the Browns offense will face one of the NFL's best defenses. While the Jets, Bears and Steelers all come to mind when thinking of league's top defenses, the Dolphins are right there. Miami is ranked sixth in the NFL in yards allowed per game at 305.3 behind the Chargers (273.6), Giants (286.5), Jets (296.9), Bears (300.2) and Steelers (304.5).

Miami can stop the run and rush the passer. Last week, Miami held Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden to two yards on eight carries. Miami will no doubt gear up to stop Peyton Hillis, who enters Sunday 95 yards short of 1,000 for the season. Hillis is averaging 4.5 yards per carry and has 11 rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns.

"Miami did a heck of a job of setting edge, closing up the gaps and beating gaps down," Daboll said. "When they were playing their two gap, they did a good job, they took it to (Oakland) in the running game."

As if running the ball against Miami isn't difficult enough, Dolphins linebacker Cameron Wake is second in the NFL with 10.5 sacks.

"He plays outside linebacker, then he's a rush guy for them," Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. "Particularly when he gets down in his four-point sprinter's stance, he does a great job of getting off on the ball. He plays with really good leverage, he's explosive, he can speed to power you, he can get around the edge on you and he's just one of those dynamic rushers that has the speed, the quickness and the power. He's done a heck of a job this year."

Offensively, Miami presents a balanced problem. The Dolphins can run the ball with backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, and they can throw the ball with receivers Brandon Marshall, Brian Hartline and Davone Bess. Marshall is one of the league's best wide outs. Beginning in 2007, he ranks among the league leaders in every major receiving category and has had 100-plus catches in each of the past three seasons. Marshall, who did not play last week because of a hamstring injury, enters Sunday's game with 58 catches for 693 yards.

Miami also seems to have figured out its quarterback situation. Season starter Chad Henne was benched before the Dolphins game Nov. 14 against Tennessee. His replacement, Chad Pennington, was hurt after only two attempts. Henne entered the game and threw for 240 yards before getting hurt. He missed the following week's game against Chicago. Last week against Oakland, Henne finished 17-for-30 passing for 307 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

The Browns defense feels as if they have a lot to prove after last week's effort against Carolina. On the Panthers' big play before their final big play that set up the game's biggest play — a missed 42-yard field goal by John Kasay as time expired — the Browns defenders executed poor tackling skills.

"Our guys had a great week of practice," Ryan said. "The death of our defense is greatly exaggerated. We'll get back after it. We have a lot of pride. (Last week's game) wasn't what we were looking for. The Baltimore and this last game were the two games we weren't at our best. We're looking forward to Sunday's game. We can't wait to get back and play."


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