The Browns have been burned by big-time backs twice this season, first when Jamal Lewis set an NFL mark by running for 295 yards and then when LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 200 yards. They face another big-time back in Shaun Alexander in Seattle this weekend. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is a dangerous player, but the Browns cover-two defense has held down quarterbacks all season. The run defense, though, has totally collapsed against the best backs. The Browns' focus has to be on stopping Alexander first, then teeing off on Hasselbeck. And if they do that, they also have to hope they re-discover their offense as well.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
- Browns CBs Daylon McCutcheon and Anthony Henry vs. Seahawks WRs Darrell Jackson and Koren Robinson. Seattle's West Coast allows the receivers to make plays after the catch, and the Seahawks run it well. McCutcheon and Henry will have their hands full.
- Browns DL vs. Seattle's OL. The Browns run defense is predicated on the defensive linemen controlling blockers so linebackers can run and make tackles. If the Seahawks are able to control the Browns defensive line, Shaun Alexander could have a big day.
- Browns RT Ryan Tucker vs. Seahawks LB Chad Brown. Brown is
Seattle's big-play defender, and he does it by rushing the passer and playing
the run. He will give Tucker all he can handle in the pass rush.
C Jeff Faine's high ankle sprain ended his season after 11 games. Faine has been playing well as a rookie, but he now will be replaced by Melvin Fowler, who isn't as aggressive or nasty as Faine. Too, Faine was drafted to replace Fowler, so there is a reason Faine started. The Browns also could be thin at linebacker. Ben Taylor spent last weekend in the hospital with a staph infection, and his replacement Brant Boyer has an ankle injury. If Taylor and Boyer can't play, the Browns may have to turn to second-round draft pick Chaun Thompson, who has seen little time in the defensive packages this season.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"The guys know that we're running out of time, that we can't afford to give any more games away." -- coach Butch Davis.
- Quarterback Kelly Holcomb will continue to start for the Browns for the near future. The Browns' goal is to continue to try to win the AFC North, and they feel Holcomb gives them the best chance to do that. This will be Holcomb's fourth start in a row, his longest stretch as a pro.
- RB James Jackson has run for 276 yards in his four starts in place of William Green. Jackson is averaging 3.6 yards per carry in those games.
- WRs Andre' Davis and Quincy Morgan combined for 13 catches for 233 yards against Arizona, but had just four for 64 yards against Pittsburgh. It's this kind of inconsistency that has Browns fans so frustrated.
- Davis is growing increasingly frustrated with the league's replay system. The Browns coach feels strongly that referees will not overturn a call without dramatically compelling evidence. "Almost every single call, there's a lack of evidence," Davis said. "I have seen very very few plays that have been overruled. I think that's been a trend. You're almost leery about challenging."
- CB Daylon McCutcheon admits he's not sure he'll be a Brown next season.
McCutcheon is due a $1.3 roster bonus in March, and he is the only member of
the 1999 draft class still playing. "Maybe I'll be able to stick around here,"
McCutcheon said. "I think the Browns have a bright future. If not, then I'm
ready to move on.