Browns vs. Texans
It wasn't long ago when my favorite game of the year was between Houston and Cleveland. December 15, 1985 remains one of my fondest memories of the Cleveland Browns. A young team with a new head coach by the name of Marty. The offense was led by a rookie quarterback by the name of Bernie. There were two thousand yard running backs in Mack and Byner. An unstoppable tight end named Ozzie roamed the middle of the field.
There was also a few other contributors on that team, Reggie Langhorn, Brian Brennan, Hanford Dixon, Al Gross, Bob Golic, Eddie Johnson, Clay Mathews but this wasn't a team of individuals. They struggled together and they learned how to play together. They became a team through the adversity.
The Browns won 28-21 and slid into the playoffs despite an 8-8 record.
This game however holds no playoff implications. It is simply another meaningless game at the end of the year between two teams that will be drafting near the top once again.
The Texans offense has found new life thanks to the former Heisman Winner, Ron Dayne. Dayne has exploded the last 4 games carrying the ball for 429 yards and 5 touchdowns. Last week he racked up 153 yards on 32 carries despite playing on an injured ankle. He will certainly see a high number of carries this week as he faces a Browns run defense that is giving up 145 a game on the ground.
Quarterback David Carr was once heralded as the next great quarterback but the beating he has taken has slowed his career. Carr has thrown for just 11 touchdowns this season along with 11 interceptions, 4 of which came at the hands of the Patriots 2 weeks ago.
Carr is however showing improvement in accuracy as he is completing close to 69% of his passes. This is due to a dink and duck approach to passing. The Texans are not taking as many chances down field but they are capable of going deep whenever the defense tightens up.
Andre Johnson is having another phenomenal year receiving the ball. He has already caught over a 100 passes on the season and should top the 1200 yard mark this week. Andre is the perfect weapon at the receiver position. He has soft hands. He has the size and speed. He is also as good of a route runner s you will find. He makes the crisp cuts and uses the double move to separate down the field. He not only faces the opponent's best corner week in and week out but the constant double and triple teams.
The Texans offensive line has been as offensive as the Browns offensive line giving up 15 sacks in the last 5 games. Don't expect a great deal of passing in this one.
Defensive end Mario Williams was the top selection in this year's draft and when all is said and done, he will prove to be worth that kind of high investment. His pass rush skills will give the Browns' tackles trouble all game. Despite the late success and high investment in Mario Williams, it is rookie linebacker Demeco Ryans that is stealing the show.
Ryans is easily the best defensive player in this highly touted rookie class. He is virtually unstoppable and appears to read the offense before they leave the huddle. He is constantly finding his way to the football. He makes plays in the backfield, in the secondary. If you enjoy watching the linebacker position, it will be a thrill to see Demeco Ryans this Sunday. He is a rare player that can dominate from the middle linebacker position not with physical skills but with a great mind for the game.
The Texans secondary is led by third year corner Dunta Robinson. Robinson is small in size but he is incredibly quick and fast. He can hang with any receiver and despite his size he can be a very physical defensive back. Dunta will take risks but he has the speed to recover. He also enjoys luring the quarterback into making a bad decision as he will fake the poor read just to slide back and make the interception. This secondary is vulnerable but avoiding Dunta is advisable.
It is a Browns tradition to be on at least their 3rd quarterback by the end of the season and this year is no different and Ken Dorsey. Dorsey is an intelligent young quarterback that can win games. He doesn't have the NFL arm but he will make few mistakes if the game is close.
Being the final game might be just what the doctor ordered for running back Jerome Harrison. Jerome has been inactive for one reason, his inability to block in the passing game. Harrison fans should not allow this one area to detract from his potential as a back. Most young backs struggle with blocking and blitz pickup. Jerome remains a threat whenever he gets his hands on the ball. He is a threat receiving and running. Once into the open field, he is difficult for defenders to bring down due to his balance and his ability to change direction.
The Browns receiving options have been amazing one week and horrible the next. Braylon Edwards remains a question. Will he play? Will he start? Will he walk through his routes? Will he remember the play? Will he explode on the sidelines once again?
The one bright spot for the Browns offensive line has been the play of center Hank Fraley. Hank has improved his play week in and week out. He is hustling all over the field and will block until the whistle sounds. He is one of the few players on offense that is giving everything he has on every single play. This young man will not be outworked by anyone. This is a hint as to who the Browns should be resigning.
The Browns defense has been marred with injuries. Thos injuries however have allowed Daven Holly to show that he is a very capable corner. It has given Leon Williams to showcase his high impact performance at inside linebacker. This week it may give defensive linemen Babatunda Oshinowo a chance to show why he was such a steal in this year's draft.
I had the young man with a solid second round grade. He is a very intelligent player that plays the game with the same degree of intelligence. His pass rush skills showed tremendous improvement in preseason but his lack of strength showed in the running game as he was driven off the line of scrimmage. I am very excited to see the improvement under John Lott's conditioning program.
The best player on the Browns defense this year has been safety Sean Jones. Jones is an impact player at the safety position. He was also a Pro Bowl snub. Jones should have another great game as Carr will throw some floaters when under pressure.
The top rookie performer for the Browns is Kamerion Wimbley. Wimbley has posted 10 sacks and is just now starting to garner the reputation that will draw the flags for offensive holding. Wimbley is also showing tremendous improvement in playing the pass as well as containing the run. He is a star on the rise.
The Texans would love to leave Sunday with back to back wins for the first time in 2 years and also do something they have never accomplished and that is ending the season with a victory. They pulled the upset over the Colts last week and they are slowly putting the pieces together. A win over the Browns will leave them with a good deal of confidence heading into the off season.
The Browns would like to end this season with some hope for the future. Players, coaches and the front office as well as ownership are in question. Another poor performance could very well seal the deal for several coaches and players.