The debate about which Patriots coach played a bigger role designing the defense that stymied Peyton Manning in the playoffs last season, head coach Bill Belichick or defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, might be settled when the Browns visit Indianapolis for their third game of the season.
Crennel, in his first year as Browns head coach, could copy the scheme the Patriots used on their way to a third Super Bowl in four years, but he is missing significant players, starting on the defensive line. The Browns do not have the likes of tackle Richard Seymour or safety Rodney Harrison.
The Browns gave up 420 yards to the Bengals and lost. They gave up 452 yards to the Packers and squeezed out a 26-24 victory.
The Browns would like nose tackle Jason Fisk to be more active. Not only do they have to figure a way to put pressure on Manning, something few teams have success doing, they also have to slow running back Edgerrin James. That has to start on the defensive line. James likes to run outside, but he also gains yardage between the tackles.
Fisk, in his 11th season, had only one tackle in the season opener against the Bengals and two against the Packers. Last season with San Diego, Fisk had 30 tackles, his lowest total since he made 25 with Minnesota in 1998.
"It just depends on how close he is to the ball when they're running," Crennel said. "If they're running off tackle and he's not able to get off tackle, maybe he doesn't have a chance to be in on a play. If they're running right beside him and he's only getting one tackle, then that might not be a very good day for him.
"If they're double-teaming him and running beside him, then he's got two guys on him. I'd like for him to be able to beat two and hope that he can beat two, but it's tough to beat two. I think you've got to take all those things into consideration."
This marks the second straight week the Browns will confront a high-powered offense that was stifled the week before. Last week the Colts squeaked by Jacksonville 10-3. The Packers scored only three points in their opener and then scored 24 on the Browns.