- It is easy to assume the Browns capitalized on the opportunity of having an additional week to gameplan for the Super Bowl champion New York Giants. The truth be told, meetings between the staff and players were conducted as they normally would have been, bye-week or not.
"We went into the bye-week planning for the Giants, as we would any opponent. The off-week provided us the opportunity to regain health, settle in a little bit and get away from some of the speculation which has been running its course," two members of the Browns organization tells The Orange and Brown Report. "The plan was not elaborate, we needed to execute, to play physical and take advantage of what the Giants give you."
- "The Browns looked every bit as explosive as we watched on film from the 2007 season. Them (the Browns) starting the season as they have wasn't a result to the talent there; injuries are a problem for them and they got healthy in time for us," a New York Giants player tells The OBR. "They (Browns) didn't do anything really that we hadn't watched on tape or planned for. The QB played well and they executed. This is a very good football team; we made mistakes and they didn't, end of story."
- The Giants appeared quite ordinary on Monday night against the Browns. In scoring nearly 32 points per game and amassing well over 400 yards per contest, this Giants team had been perceived as the best team in the league heading into Cleveland.
Basically, the Browns were well-versed in beating this New York at their game - physical line play, aggressive defensive scheme and solid offensive execution, while limiting turnovers.
The Browns offensive line was solid and prepared for the aggressive Giants defense. Often, the Cleveland linemen manned-up and used the aggressiveness of the New York front-seven to their advantage - running to the gaps, leading linemen, etc. This Cleveland offensive line fired off the ball well and delivered a solid punch throughout, which was completely different from the pre-season match-up between the two teams.
Stopping short of thinking this Browns offense is fragile, there are indicators which relay the confidence or lack thereof heading into the game against these New York Giants.
As is the case in most instances in the game, if the QB plays well, the odds are the offense is going to be productive. QB Derek Anderson struggled with inconsistency and inaccuracy throughout the first four games of the season. The trickle-down of those issues only magnified the overall state of the offense, as players pressed, made numerous mental errors But contrary to popular belief, the team did not start to not believe in themselves.
- Yes, the play of Derek Anderson on Monday night was a primary factor in the success of this team. The much-maligned QB made quick decisions, solid reads and accurate throws in most instances. As the game progressed, this QB settled in and looked the part of a good NFL QB that not only led his team to victory, but has squashed talk of his demise for another week - which should only help with this immediate pressure off his back.
Anderson stood in the face of the New York pass rush and did not waiver. The confidence level of the QB and of those around him was a a level unforeseen in this 2008 season and for good reason. This Browns team was aggressive for 60 minutes on both sides of the ball. This was a complete effort coming from a team struggling to find its identity.
Despite how well the Browns played on Monday night, this was a game that was not decided until the fourth quarter. The New York offense moved the ball well against the Browns defense, and the running attack certainly lived up to its advanced billing. But, it was the pressure applied by the Cleveland defense that altered the outcome of this game. Giants QB Eli Manning was pressured on a consistent basis; while the Browns defense did not gain a win in the statistical sack category, it can be noted they did rattle the cage of this Manning.
- Time of possession has been a sticking point throughout the season. The Browns' offense due to the lack of execution had been a cause of considerable concern - offensively due to the inability to put points on the board, a struggle in the battle of field position as well as placing the onus on a defensive unit which has played reasonably well in most instances. Through three quarters on Monday night, the Browns dominated the time of possession battle, which helped keep the defense fresh and able to consistently attack.