Browns-Seahawks: Greg's Game Preview

Greg Hensley details what to look for during Sunday's clash between the Browns and Seahawks...

The 4-3 Seattle Seahawks will visit the 4-3 Cleveland Browns Sunday at 4:05PM. This should be a very exciting game with a number of subplots as former Browns Charlie Frye and Bryan Russell make their returns to Cleveland. The Browns are coming off of back-to-back wins while the Seahawks have had two weeks to prepare for the Browns. If Cleveland is to make it three in a row, they must get out to the early lead and force the Seahawks to become one-dimensional on offense.

Browns Offense

The Browns offense has simply been on fire under the play calling of Rob Chudzinski along with the arm of quarterback Derek Anderson. Anderson is making the difficult throw look easy and, while he still has many skeptics, his performance is undeniable. Anderson has one of the best arms in the league along with the ability to get the ball to his targets very quickly but it is the little things he's learned that are making the young quarterback even more impressive.

Derek had happy feet and he was bouncing up and down as he was delivering the ball. This has been corrected and he now sets his feet before the throw. With the slight change, his accuracy has become vastly improved. Another huge improvement is how quickly he is able to go through his progressions. Early on, Derek wasn't going through his progressions and was forcing the ball into coverage. Last week he looked off the safety repeatedly and made the right decisions. There is no doubt that general managers across the league are licking their chops at the possibility of acquiring the young gunslinger in the off-season.

The Browns offensive line is getting better every week out. They are starting to show better chemistry as they have grown more comfortable due to the experience of playing together. Rookie tackle Joe Thomas has faced some of the best defenders the NFL has to offer and he is not only holding his own but he is taking those elite defenders out of the game. His run blocking still has plenty of room to grow as he gets stronger but no one can find a fault with his dominance in protecting the quarterback.

One of the best battles of the day should be between defensive tackle Rocky Bernard and guard Eric Steinbach. Rocky hasn't had the year many expected but he is still capable of creating havoc in the running game as well as pressuring the quarterback up the middle. Keep your eye on this one.

The Browns running game leaves a great deal to be desired but they have become very effective at picking and choosing the right time to run the ball. Jamal Lewis is an excellent runner inside the tackles with his bruising style. His style of running forces the defense to be honest, but second year running back Jerome Harrison is starting to come into his own and will see an increased role in this offense. In the last two games Harrison has 13 rushes for 89 yards. He can also be equally effective in the passing game. Look for a big game out of Harrison in the running game as well as the passing game.

The Browns have developed into a three headed monster with their receiving options. Joe Jurevicius is "Mr. Clutch" with his knack for finding the first down marker on third and long situations. Tight End Kellen Winslow owns the middle of the field and could be in for a career game as the Seahawks look to protect the deep ball. That will be a difficult challenge as Braylon Edwards is one of the most dominant receivers in football. He will need to keep an eye out for former Brown Brian Russell as Russell may look to repay Edwards for his comments on the hit to Chad Johnson last year. The Browns receiving threats will have a huge advantage against the undersized defensive backs of the Seahawks.


Seahawks Defense

Seattle has allowed just 11 touchdowns on the season. They have done an outstanding job at keeping everything in front of them and avoiding giving up the big play.

The injury to defensive end Darryl Tapp is huge. Tapp is coming off of his best game as a Seahawk as he posted 4 sacks against the Rams. Tapp may try to go this week despite having six screws inserted into his right hand during the break.

Opposite Tapp will be veteran Patrick Kerney. Kerney is a bit undersized for the modern day defensive end but he is tenacious on defense. He can be a tremendous pass rushing threat when healthy and he is slowly starting to show signs of becoming healthy once again as his speed off the edge is noticeable. This will be a very interesting battle with tackles Kevin Shaffer and Ryan Tucker.

Outside linebacker Julian Peterson has returned to his old form and he is on pace to set career numbers in both tackles and sacks. Peterson will be moved around all over the place but one thing is certain - he will be attacking. Peterson has the ability to slide through traffic while making the play in the backfield. The Browns should look to target the area vacated by Peterson when he comes on the blitz. They will find themselves with a one on one match up against the safety when Peterson blitzes.

The Seattle secondary will be in for their stiffest challenge to date. Safety Brian Russell has become the defensive field general in Seattle the same as he was in Cleveland. He is however a liability in pass coverage. The Browns will likely run a few plays for Joshua Cribbs this week to draw in the deep coverage.

The corners for Seattle have been solid all year but they will struggle with the size of the Browns receivers. The Browns will likely try to isolate Braylon Edwards one on one with second-year corner Kelly Jennings. Jennings is one of the bright young corners in this league but Edwards is playing at an elite level. He will need safety help, if he is to have a chance on Sunday.

 
Browns Defense

While it was frustrating watching the first quarter last week of the Rams game, the Browns defense came together for the first time all year. It may have also been the best in game coaching on the defensive side of the ball since the Crennel era began in Cleveland. Adjustments were made as the Browns began to mix up their coverage and play a more physical brand of football. Moving linebacker Willie McGinnest to defensive tackle was a brave move but it forced the Rams to make quicker decisions.

The Browns secondary are improving every week out. They gave up some big plays last week but one thing that was noticeable is that they were in position but the offense just made the great play. Leigh Bodden made 2 huge plays at the end of the game and that is the type of play he was known for. Bodden is solid in coverage although those injuries over the last two years have slowed him down but it is his ability to make plays in the running game that has made Bodden a successful NFL corner.

Opposite Bodden is rookie Eric Wright. Wright once again receives props for playing a solid game against another Hall of Fame quality receiver. It won't be any easier this week with Deon Branch a possibility to return for Seattle. Branch loves the deep ball and it will be an interesting challenge for the rookie.

With linebacker D'Qwell Jackson out with an ankle injury, look for Chaun Thompson to see an increased role this week. Andra Davis has struggled with injuries and just doesn't seem to be the same Dra that Browns fans have become accustomed to seeing. He will receive the start but Chaun will likely receive the majority of playing time.

Kamerion Wimbley will have a nightmare match up with veteran left tackle Walter Jones. In fact, Walter may be the best left tackle to ever play the game. The experience gained in this contest will be invaluable to young outside linebacker.

Willie McGinest is playing at a high level. I have been extremely hard on Willie for his play but he seems rejuvenated and he is a force on this defense not only with his play but also with his leadership. He is the one player on this defense that has the ear of both players and coaches.

Stopping Shaun Alexander won't be an easy task but Shaun Smith taking over at nose tackle would certainly be a step in the right direction. With Ted Washington heading to injured reserve and likely a job on the coaching staff, look for Shaun Smith to have a very good game this week.

Robaire Smith is having a solid year despite the troubles with this defense. Robaire must hold his ground this week against Walter Jones and guard Rob Sims. This is likely the area where this game will be won or lost. The Seahawks are going to run the ball and they love to run it to their left. It is up to Robaire to control that side of the line.


Seattle Offense

Matt Hasselbeck gets rid of the ball very quickly but he is banged up and the Browns will look to test his durability early. Matt loves the short spread game but he also will test the defense deep if he catches the defense creeping up to the line. The key to slowing Matt is to force him into making the quick throw before he is ready. He doesn't like to take sacks and he will hurry the throw.

He has targets that eat away with the short game with their speed in Branch and Nate Burelson. They are the typical west coast receivers small in size and quicker than a hiccup. The Browns must jam these receivers at the line and receive help over the top. If you allow these two receivers to get off free they will eat away the clock 6 yards at a time.

Running back Shaun Alexander appears to have hit that wall that ends the career of so many NFL veteran running backs. He is simply not the same back as he was two years ago when he shattered records. Alexander is hesitant to hit the hole and he simply isn't running with the same for or the determination that we are accustomed to seeing. It is so bad that Alexander has rushed for 107 yards in his last three games combined. He will look to change that against the porous Browns defense.
 


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