Browns-Bucs: Greg's Game Preview

Two teams who struggled in 2006 will face off on Christmas Eve. Greg Hensley looks at the squads as they prepare for the match-up, and start looking forward to 2007...

Frankly, it is difficult to make a game sound exciting when the 2 teams have combined for just 7 wins in 28 attempts but fans for both teams should be excited for this one. Many of the younger players will receive an opportunity to showcase their talent. For those fans that are already thinking draft, this game has tremendous draft implications. The two opposing quarterbacks have an opportunity to plant themselves in the driver's seat heading into the off season. This is the last opportunity for the Browns to give the home fans a win.

Buccaneers Offense

Quarterback Tim Rattay brings some stability to this struggling offense. Rattay will move around the pocket and allows the receivers time to get open. When he gets off to the quick start, he is a very effective quarterback at moving the chains and taking pressure off the backs of the defense. He brings experience and leadership to the offense. Tim also has better accuracy than most give him credit for.

The loss of receiver Michael Clayton has hindered the offense but former Buckeye Joey Galloway remains a potent weapon whenever he steps on the field. He has the speed to stretch the field but he also uses those 12 years of experience to create opportunities. He is a mid to deep receiver but he isn't afraid of the short routes across the middle. His best move to get open is the double move in which he fakes the short curl route, makes the defender come up and then uses his speed to separate down the sideline.

Tight end Alex Smith is the safety valve for the Bucs offense. He is an excellent blocker and he enjoys making the initial block and sliding out into the passing lanes. He isn't much of a field stretcher but he makes those tough catches in traffic that will keep drives alive.

Tampa Bay has one of the most talented young running backs in the game. Cadillac Williams is the complete back in that he has the speed and balance to take it the distance anytime he touches the ball. He has the soft hands and is a weapon receiving the ball. He continues to improve his blocking every time he steps on the field.

Despite his talent, Williams has been very disappointing this year due to an offensive line that has struggled to open any type of running lane. Williams will make the first defender miss, only to be swarmed by 4 or 5 more defenders. Williams may or may not appear for the Bucs on Sunday. While the offensive line has been adequate in pass protection their run blocking has been as effective as the Browns.

Buccaneers Defense

The Tampa 2 is still being played in Tampa but they are no longer an aggressive defense. The front 4 simply is not able to produce the pressure required by this scheme. In order to completely stop the Tampa pass rush, the offense should protect the left side of their line with additional blockers and the quarterback should be cheating to his right where pressure never comes.

Without the pressure from the front four, the talented linebackers and secondary are being hung out to dry. They are being asked to cover and slide their zone for to long. Linebacker Derrick Brooks and corner Ronde Barber are the two players to avoid when attacking this defense. They will make the big play and force the offense to roll their attacks to the opposite side of the field.

Browns Offense

Quarterback Derek Anderson will make his third consecutive start. Anderson has brought life to the quarterback position. He has one of the best arms in football and his quick read and release should keep the Tampa defense at bay. He will have time to find his targets but he must be very patient and find the safe targets within this cover 2 defense. This will not be a test of arm strength nor pocket presence but a test of the mental skills of the young quarterback.

Anytime you face Tampa Bay, your first and second option should be the tight end sliding into the middle of the field as the defense fans out wide. Kellen Winslow should be in for a tremendous day receiving the ball. Tampa will attempt to jam Kellen at the line of scrimmage but if he can defeat the initial jam, he should find a large cushion and a free run down the middle of the field. Kellen should be playing with a chip on his shoulder after being snubbed in the Pro Bowl balloting.

Joe Jurevicius makes his return to Tampa. Joe has become the favorite target of Derek Anderson. Joe has made 18 receptions for 232 yards in the last 3 games compared to 18 receptions for 205 yards in the first 11 games. He is providing the young quarterback with a big target that will catch anything thrown his way.

The Browns have seemingly given up all hope of running the football but with Nat Dorsey getting the start at right tackle the Browns may find running lanes once again. Dorsey was the Browns best run blocker in preseason and I am looking forward to see if this young man can bring that same type of performance to the field on Sunday.  

Browns Defense

The Browns defense is plagued with injuries but injuries provide opportunity and that was the case last week for linebacker Leon Williams. Leon is big, fast and very explosive. He is looking to join D'Qwell Jackson and Kamerion Wimbley as the third member of this rookie linebacker class to display tremendous NFL potential.

Containing Carnell Williams will be a difficult challenge. Williams explodes through the line and the best way to stop him is to stop him before he gets going. You can not play catch up with this dynamic young running back.

The Browns must look to play the Bucs offense tight by forcing quarterback Tim Rattay to make the quick decision. Providing the pass rush for the Browns will be rookie linebacker Kamerion Wimbley. Kamerion has 5 sacks in the last 7 games. Also defensive end Simon Frazier is starting to gain attention from opposing defense by demanding the double team.

The safety play will be vital for the Browns to have success. Sean Jones is having an excellent year and Tim Rattay has a tendency to lock onto his target prematurely. Sean should have an opportunity to route jump this week, especially when the Bucs run the middle slant.


Look for Joshua Cribbs to have a huge game this Sunday. Joshua has just missed several huge run backs the last 2 weeks and he is due.

We could also see a different punt returner for the Browns this week as they make plans for the future with Dennis Northcutt set to hit free agency.

This one is shaping up to be a very exciting game with big plays on offense as well as defense. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will leave with a victory.

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