The Browns are in a major slump defensively, and outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley would like to have a hand in turning the unit around starting Monday night against the Bills in Buffalo.
After allowing the Ravens 429 yards of offense, the Browns gave up 564 net yards against the Broncos. They represent the highest back-to-back totals allowed by the Browns in franchise history dating back to 1950.
Wimbley admits he can play better. He went four games without a sack before he dumped Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler for a 6-yard loss. He has two this season. He had 11 as a rookie and five last year.
Wimbley's job does not begin and end with sacks, but he has become frustrated. He is fourth with 42 tackles. He has only two quarterback pressures.
The Browns had the 12th pick in the 2006 draft. The Ravens picked 13th. The Browns wanted the pass rusher and the Ravens wanted the run stopper, so Phil Savage agreed to swap picks with his good buddy, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome. Newsome took Ngata 12th and the Browns took Wimbley with the next pick.
The Browns got the Ravens' sixth-round pick in the trade and used it on nose tackle Babatunde Oshinowo. Oshinowo lasted one season with the Browns and is now out of football.
At first, Wimbley was the better player statistically. He had 11 sacks and 67 tackles as a rookie. Ngata, 6-4, 345 pounds, had 51 tackles and one sack. Last year, Ngata was dominant with 94 tackles and four sacks. Wimbley dropped to 65 tackles and five sacks.
"I'm starving for a big play somewhere -- a sack or an interception," Wimbley said. "I look at the sacks like everybody else and say, 'Man, two sacks, what's going on?' At this point I'd like to have more, but that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. I had 10 tackles in the Redskins game, but no sacks.
"I'm still hungry. I can't be discouraged. I know they'll come. I believe I have been getting effective pressure. In the New York game, I hit Eli Manning and he threw an interception."
Head coach Romeo Crennel and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker are constantly put in the position of saying the statistics do not reflect how well Wimbley is playing.
Rookie Alex Hall has three sacks, but only 19 tackles. Willie McGinest has 32 tackles, no sacks and seven quarterback pressures. Crennel said starting Monday in Buffalo, Wimbley might be moved around so offenses will have more difficulty blocking him.
"Kamerion brings a lot to the table," Tucker said. "He's doing a lot for us and maybe the numbers haven't shown that so far, but I do feel good about the direction he's going.
"He's done a good job against the run. He's very consistent versus the pass. They've slid the line to him and they've done a good job of chipping with the back to his side. I think Kamerion is going to make his fair share of plays before the end of the day."
Wimbley is more concerned about team success than his own. To that end, he plays in the team concept instead of running around trying to improve his own stats.
Crennel said he will pick the starter after practice Saturday. McDonald is still troubled about the way he played against the Ravens and Broncos.
Crennel is convinced starting Daniels will take some pressure off McDonald, the 2007 fifth-round draft choice from Memphis. Crennel is trying to balance that goal with making sure McDonald's confidence is not shattered beyond repair.
"He does have good ability," Crennel said. "He has been competing. He competed in the (Denver) game. A couple choices weren't very good choices.
"These guys are all competitive; they have been playing the game for a long time. They understand that there are good plays and bad plays and you have to work through it. You go back to your fundamentals, your basics and get to the point where you have confidence again."
McDonald will likely be the nickel back if he does not start. He leads the Browns with 13 pass breakups. He was playing well until he was burned for a 47-yard touchdown pass by Mark Clayton of the Ravens on Nov. 2. Then against the Broncos, he tried to break up a pass to Eddie Royal and missed. The play went for 93 yards and a touchdown. He gave up the winning touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall when he slipped.
McDonald said he got the news about Daniels on Wednesday morning.
"(Crennel) made the decision to do what he did and I support it. I'm not going to be angry about it," McDonald said. "I love T. Daniels. I love what he brings to the game. I know he can come and help us. I'm not aggravated about it, but I am aggravated at myself for how I've been playing the last couple weeks."
The Browns acquired Daniels from the Miami Dolphins on Aug. 20 for a seventh-round draft pick in 2007. The Dolphins drafted him in the fourth round in 2005. He played every game the last three years and made 25 starts. Some of his games were against the Bills and their star receiver, Lee Evans.
"I think they would do something like that, but at the same time, I played against these guys before," Daniels said. "It's not my first time seeing Lee Evans, the Buffalo Bills or playing in Buffalo. They know me pretty well and if they want to come over there, then that's just what they do."
Brady Quinn was given a very limited package of plays in his first start, and most of them called for him to throw short passes.
Seventeen of Quinn's completions went to tight ends and backs, and the only time he really looked downfield was when he escaped the rush and threw on the run.
This might not please Braylon Edwards, but it was successful. Offensive coordinator did not want Quinn to try to do too much, and he used a very conservative game plan.
This is typical of Crennel. He does not ask a lot of young players, but expands their roles when they prove they can handle things.
Quinn had a high completion rate, and looked comfortable running the offense. He's always been a quarterback who threw short.
He now has to prove he can throw down the field as well. If he doesn't, teams will squeeze the field on him and make those short throws that much more difficult.
SERIES HISTORY: 14th regular-season meeting. The Browns lead the series, 8-5. The Browns won their only playoff game against the Bills. The Browns last won in Buffalo in 1986, but they have played in Ralph Wilson Stadium only once since then.
BY THE NUMBERS: 4.7 -- Opponents rushing average per carry against the Browns.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We just have to pull together as a team, weed out those guys, and play the rest of the season out." -- Special teams star Josh Cribbs on unnamed Browns who don't give full effort.
--NT Shaun Rogers returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday. He missed practice Wednesday with a neck injury.
--DE Corey Williams was limited in practice with a shoulder injury.
--TE Darnell Dinkins was limited with a hamstring injury.
--LG Eric Steinbach was limited with an oblique tear.
--FB Lawrence Vickers has a high ankle sprain and did not practice.
--Injured RT Ryan Tucker was in the locker room Wednesday. He is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He is on injured reserve.
GAME PLAN: The Browns should expect the Bills to attack their zone defense after Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler passed for 447 yards against them last week. They could go more man-to-man, but that is not an automatic solution, either, because Cutler burned Brandon McDonald twice in man-to-man, which is one reason Crennel is thinking about benching McDonald.
Quinn completed 23 passes against the Broncos, but only six went to wide receivers. One was caught by Braylon Edwards. Quinn is expected to involve Edwards more on Monday.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Browns LB Willie McGinest vs. Bills RB Marshawn Lynch. Lynch is averaging only 3.5 yards a carry, but he is a workhorse and has scored six of the Bills' eight rushing touchdowns. The Browns should expect Lynch to get 18 to 20 carries unless their run defense proves it can stop him.
Browns KR Josh Cribbs vs. Bills special teams. Cribbs has been on fire the last two games, averaging 33.9 yards on seven kick returns against the Ravens and 27 yards on five returns vs. the Broncos. He won't find it as easy against the Bills. Opponents are averaging 21.7 yards against them. That's ninth best in the league.
INJURY IMPACT: LG Eric Steinbach was still limited Thursday, but he is determined to play against the Bills. He has been running in the exercise pool and doing upper-body lifting.