Browns-Chiefs: Greg's Game Preview

Greg Hensley breaks down the key factors in this battle of struggling teams...

The Chiefs and the Browns often share a similar fate.  When one is struggling, so is the other.  They always find a way to keep games relatively close and the series even closer as their record when facing each other is nine wins, nine losses and two ties.

While both teams are currently, struggling hope is on the horizon.  General Manager Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley have this Chiefs team headed in the right direction.  They simply need time to acquire the talent. 

For the Browns, it appears as if change is coming.  If the Browns are able to land Mike Holmgren, he will be able to give this franchise the structure to move forward with true vision.  Browns Head Coach Eric Mangini has his own vision and while winning out may not be enough to save his job; it could strengthen his resume enough for another team to give him strong consideration. 

Chiefs Offense vs. Browns Defense

The Kansas City Chiefs have struggled with offensive line play throughout the year.  Although this group has improved. They remain one of the worst units in the National Football League.  A glaring weakness of this group is pass protection as they have now given up 43 sacks on the season.

Being next to last in sacks allowed will allow Rob Ryan to turn it up a notch.   It will be like pouring blood in the shark tank for the aggressive Browns defense employed by defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.  This unit has made steady improvement throughout the year and are coming off their best performance of the season as they sacked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger eight times and managed to hit him on virtually every pass attempt.  The Browns will look to duplicate that performance against the Chiefs, as the Browns are now ninth in sacks.

Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel has struggled since coming over from the Patriots.  Cassel is the same quarterback but a faulty line and inconsistency at the receiver position has created doubt in the young quarterback.  He often appears slow to make the read and does not trust what he is seeing.  This is the result of little faith, in the offensive line.

If there is one bright spot for this offense, it is the play of running back Jamaal Charles.  Charles is a unique runner.  He is more of speed back with exceptional quickness and balance to pop the run outside but he also is a fearless runner between the tackles.  He hits the hole as hard as any back in the NFL.  The future looks bright for this young running back.  Charles style of running can be frustrating for a defense and it can wear on a team both physically and mentally.

The Browns defense continues to lose players due to injury but their play also continues to improve.  This is thanks in large part to Rob Ryan getting the most out of individual playersm, while building team unity on the defensive side of the ball.  Ryan is doing his best to use the front seven to cover for a rather weak secondary. 

Newcomer Matt Roth and rookie Marcus Bernard are much needed additions to this pass rushing group.  Both have shown not only a knack for getting pressure but also a relentless approach to attacking that pocket.  Teams are learning they can no longer shut down linebacker Kamerion Wimbley and that shuts down the Browns pass rush.  They have Roth and Bernard to also deal with.

Up front, Corey Williams and Ahtyba Rubin have replaced the production of Shaun Rogers.  They have also added more discipline to the defensive line and that in turn has freed up the linebackers like Wimbley, Roth and Bernard to make plays.  They must remain focused this week and play their intended gaps to prevent long runs from Jamaal Charles.

Browns Offense vs. Chiefs Defense

The Chiefs defense has been inconsistent throughout the season.  This is very understandable as they make the transition from the 4-3 to the 3-4.  There is a natural struggle that takes place with the transition but the lack of any type of pass rush is alarming and the Browns should look to exploit this vulnerability.

Quarterback Brady Quinn needs to finish this season strong while demonstrating consistency.  He is making good decisions with the football, which has resulted in no interceptions in his last four contests.  In fact, since his embarrassing game against the Ravens, Brady Quinn has seven touchdowns and no interceptions. 

This is the result of improved pass protection.  Games in which Quinn is harassed his play has been bad and when he has had time, he has played fairly well.  Against the Chiefs defense, Quinn should have ample time to find his intended targets.

One of those intended targets that continues to impress by displaying terrific hands is tight end Evan Moore.  Moore's audition has gone well and he should have little difficulty in earning his spot on this roster for a long time to come.  The middle of the Chiefs defense is often available for exploitation and Moore will have tremendous opportunity for success on Sunday.

After another impressive performance, rookie running back Chris Jennings must be brimming with confidence - especially considering the game he had against the Steelers.  He should be even more confident after watching game tape of the Chiefs run defense against the Bills. 

Jennings is a little bit quicker than he looks and runs with a lot more power than anyone could imagine.  Chris is a power runner but he has the ability to get to the edge and he finishes every run as if Jim Brown has possessed his body.  Some players are great at picking up yards after contact.  Chris picks up yards after collision as he plows over defenders.  This young man is quickly becoming a fan favorite and similar to Moore, he is earning his way.

Bottom Line

Joshua Cribbs will be the target for the Chiefs defense and special teams throughout this contest.  Cribbs is the Browns one true playmaker and the Browns have to find ways to get him the ball.  Cribbs needs to touch the ball twenty times a game.  Whether it is kick returns, punt returns, as quarterback, as running back or as receiver, the Browns must find a way to get the ball into Cribbs hands.

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