Browns-Ravens: Conventional Wisdom

Lane talks about the expectations for today's game... and how the Browns can defy them...

Conventional Wisdom Says .....

....the Browns are in for yet another long afternoon in Baltimore, Sunday. After the Browns showed little offensive prowess in their first two games of the season, the Ravens defense should dominate.

Or should they?

It's not a guarantee. The Browns ability to execute "the ordinary" will factor into the equation. While the Ravens remain a very good run-stopping defense, first in the league surrendering 41-yards per game, Baltimore is susceptible through the air.

This Baltimore defense is not the same model which dominated games in past seasons, as the 290-yards per game they're giving up proves .

Thanks to relentless pressure from the front seven, though, the Ravens defense remains quick to expose offensive weaknesses. But this Ravens unit may be a step slower and a rung less talented at the LB position a unit which has been the shining jewel of the organization.


Conventional Wisdom Says .....

....head coach Eric Mangini is going to want to play the field position game. Minimizing mistakes and risk, the Browns offense will look much like it has in their two games this season, if this is the approach taken on game-day.

Why?

The Ravens defense is going to come out of the tunnel smelling blood. The Browns are not likely to run the football on this team, the Ravens know it and the Browns know it.

It comes down to execution and match-ups.

Coming out in the spread would force the Ravens DB's to play man coverage, which helps a young QB such as Brady Quinn in recognizing the match-ups. When the Ravens drop the safety and corner comes off the corner, the hot-read is available, and the potential is there for the Browns to force the hand of the Ravens defense.

Also, you have to have a player across LB Ray Lewis' face throughout the contest. You don't neutralize Lewis; you look to minimize his impact.

The key to the strategy is execution. The line has to protect, the QB has to make quick, accurate reads and throws. If anything, the Browns can put the Ravens on their heels for a moment and make them think about something other than attacking without remorse.

It helps in knowing the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers had success against the Baltimore defense when pressing the action.


Conventional Wisdom Says .....

....the Ravens diversity on the offensive side of the ball will be too much for the Browns to overcome. QB Joe Flacco continues to make plays in the passing game, while the rushing attack remains a strength for the Ravens.

Interestingly, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron tends to rely more on his second-year QB when the Ravens get into an offensive battle, which may be beneficial to this Browns team.

While Flacco has displayed the tendency to make big plays, he can also be boxed-in by defenses which show the ability to change on the fly. Disguising the coverages is critical, as the match-ups place the Browns in a potentially level playing field.

Still, there are two match-ups of great concern.

TE Todd Heap is an excellent receiver. Heap runs routes well, can beat a DB or LB, and gains yardage after the catch. The Browns defense displays some flaws in their zone scheme when it comes to the TE, and an also be hurt by the aggressive nature of the ILB's, who can get caught looking in the backfield and failing to secure the TE in the seam.

The other match-up to worry about is covering running backs coming out of the backfield. The Baltimore offense does an excellent job of running receivers down-field, opening the middle of the field for the TEs and RBs. The outside linebackers of the Browns have been deficient in this coverage scheme, relying more on the safeties and ILB's in release.

If the Ravens have early success rushing the ball, Flacco's play-action is going to be very effective, especially against a Browns defense which has to blitz to create pressure.


Conventional Wisdom Says .....

....the Browns do not have the horses to ride into the sunset against the Ravens. But, one has to utilize the horses in place.

In the case of the Browns...............

That is why conventional wisdom needs to be forgotten. At 0-2, in a funk and looking for something positive, its time to remove the reigns and mix it up.

Without starting RB Jamal Lewis in the lineup, the unit will be missing his vast experience. Whereas his ability to run the football, especially against this Baltimore team is limited, the team will particularly miss his ability to recognize the blocking scheme and blitz reads to help the offense and particularly the QB.

Jerome Harrison and James Davis will have their hands full, and let's not forget FB Lawrence Vickers, a forgotten man that should see plenty of playing time on Sunday.

While TE Robert Royal can be an asset in the blocking scheme, the under-utilization of the tight ends has been alarming. Steve Heiden is an effective pass catching TE, and a player that has the ability to challenge the Ravens linebackers and safeties in the seam.

Rookie WR Mohamed Massaquoi will get on the field more often on Sunday. As reported by theOBR early in the week, Massaquoi is expected to garner time opposite WR Braylon Edwards, as well as in four WR sets.


Conventional Wisdom Says .....

....the end result couldn't be much worse.


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