Browns-Bengals: Inside Slant

While the Pepto is undoubtedly flowing in Berea about the prospects of a Browns loss to the Bengals, the upside is that the team goes back to 3-3 with a win. Important game? You betcha. Here are some pre-game notes courtesy of the Scout Network...

Cleveland's sluggish offensive start has caused observers to question whether Jeff Garcia is the best fit for the Browns' offense.

In their comments to reporters, Garcia and coach Butch Davis have always been on the same page. That may be changing as the team prepares for intrastate rival Cincinnati at home on Sunday.

On Monday, when analyzing his team's offensive problems in last week's loss to Pittsburgh, Davis faulted the offensive line and receivers. He did not exempt Garcia from criticism.

"The quarterback has to have confidence that the last time he got hit is an aberration," Davis said. "You can't be skittish. You've got to sit in the pocket and make your throws and let the routes come open."

On Wednesday, Garcia didn't look pleased when asked about Davis' remark.

"I don't have a reaction to that," he said. "Until he plays the quarterback position, then he can understand where I'm coming from."

He meant "can't."

Davis tried to shift blame for the mini-controversy on the media.

When informed Garcia didn't look happy with the "skittish" comment, Davis said, "He probably shouldn't have been. That's very typical when someone in the media takes one word out of 12 paragraphs and paraphrases it and it's taken out of context.

"Jeff and I laughed about and talked about it. When a quarterback thinks he's got protection and the protection doesn't hold up and you get hit, you will get skittish. That's no reflection on him. That's a reflection on every single quarterback."

Garcia acknowledged he did rush a couple of times against Pittsburgh by throwing or scrambling before a play had a chance to develop.

Garcia is candid about the fact he doesn't have full command of Cleveland's offense or that he and his teammates have sometimes been out of sync. For the most part, Browns receivers have not adjusted their routes well when Garcia has scrambled, which is a big part of the quarterback's game.

"The scramble drill is part of the game," Garcia said. "That's going to happen anywhere from 5-8 times a game. You're going to have to buy time as a quarterback, adjust routes (as receivers).

"We worked on those things in San Francisco. We worked on those things just about every day in practice. Maybe that's something we need to focus on a little more here because of the type of player I am."

Garcia remains optimistic the Browns' offense will begin clicking.

"When you look at game film, you see opportunities that are left on the field that we need to be able to take advantage of," Garcia said.

"It's not like we're a bad team. It's not like we're a terrible offense. The plays are there to be made. It's just a matter of the players stepping up and making the plays, and that's me included."

SERIES HISTORY: 62nd meeting. The Browns lead series, 32-29, including 19-11 at home. Cleveland has won four of the last five games.

GAME NOTES:

  • In the history of the Browns-Bengals series, Cleveland has outscored Cincinnati 1239-1220.
  • The Browns have won their first two home games. They have not been 3-0 at home since 1973.
  • Two of Jeff Garcia's three best passing games have come against the Bengals. In two career starts against Cincinnati, Garcia (then with San Francisco) threw for 437 yards on Dec. 5, 1999 and for 344 yards on Dec. 14, 2003.
  • Lee Suggs will be happy to see the Bengals again. After missing most of his rookie 2003 season recovering from shoulder surgery, Suggs ran for 186 yards against Cincinnati in the season finale, knocking the Bengals from playoff contention.
  • If Andre Davis can follow his 101-yard receiving performance from last week with another 100-yard game, he would be the first Browns receiver since Webster Slaughter in 1989 to have consecutive 100-yard receiving games.
  • Phil Dawson extended his consecutive field-goal streak to 21 last week by kicking three field goals against Pittsburgh. He has the longest current streak in the NFL.
  • Cleveland has outscored opponents 37-15 in the fourth quarter this season but have been outscored 31-13 in the first quarter. The Browns only touchdown in the first 15 minutes came on an interception return by Chris Crocker last week against Pittsburgh.

BY THE NUMBERS: 262.6 -- The Browns' total offensive yards per game, which is next-to-last in the NFL.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Go sit in the freezer? I don't know." -- QB Jeff Garcia when asked what Butch Davis meant when he said the Browns were pressing too much on offense and had to "chill out."



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