Bucs-Browns Preview

August 17 – For their second game of the preseason, the Tampa Buccaneers head north to take on the Cleveland Browns. The Bucs are looking to rebound off of their loss to Miami last Monday night while the Browns are hoping to win their second straight. Here is the preview for Saturday night's contest in the Dog Pound.

MATCHUP: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-0)

WHERE: Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio

WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 18 at 8:00 p.m. ET. on UPN44

LAST WEEK: The Cleveland Browns stuffed the visiting Green Bay Packers last weekend, 10-3. Although he was bothered by back spasms, fourth-year QB Tim Couch completed 10-of-13 passes for 82 yards and thew one touchdown. Couch hooked up with RB Jamel White nine-yards into the end zone for the only touchdown of the game. Rookie RB James Jackson was impressive in his debut, rushing for 66 yards.

Meanwhile, Cleveland's defense showed much improvement from last year's unit, which finished the 200 season ranked last in the league against the run and pass. The Browns' defense held the Packers three points. Kicker Phil Dawson kicked a 23-yard field goal to secure the win for Cleveland.

Tampa Bay lost their preseason opener to the Miami Dolphins in stunning fashion. Tampa Bay took the lead, 14-10, with 1:08 remaining in the game. But QB Mike Quinn threw up a Hail Mary pass with no time remaining and completed it to WR Robert Baker in the end zone for the 44-yard game-winning score. Quarterbacks Shaun King and Joe Hamilton each threw a touchdown against Miami, but it wasn't enough.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Buccaneers LT Kenyatta Walker vs. Browns DE Courtney Brown. Brown, the Brown's first overall selection in the 2000 draft, had a solid rookie season. He recorded 4.5 sacks and 86 tackles and led the team with 25 QB pressures last season. Walker is a rookie, but for the most part, he faired well against Pro Bowl DE Jason Taylor last week. Walker did allow Taylor to record a sack, but he had Taylor blocked out on the play for at least a good four seconds. Walker has gone up against some of the NFL's best speed rushers in DE Simeon Rice in training camp and Taylor last week, but the power rushing Brown will test Walker's strength.

THE LAST TIME THESE TWO TEAMS MET: 1999 Preseason: The last time the Browns played the Buccaneers, Tampa Bay hammered Cleveland into submission, 30-3, at Raymond James Stadium.

BUCS-BROWNS SERIES: Tampa Bay and Cleveland have met six times in the preseason, with the Buccaneers winning four of them. The Buccaneers are playing in Cleveland for the third time in its history and the first time in the Browns new stadium (Cleveland Browns Stadium). The Bucs are 2-0 all-time at the Browns during the exhibition season, posting victories in 1989 (27-10) and 1991 (23-10).

Tampa Bay is 11-11 in the preseason under head coach Tony Dungy (since 1996).

WHAT A RUSH: The Browns rushed for an impressive 127 yards last week against Green Bay. The Buccaneers' defense, which ranked ninth in the NFL last season, has vowed to improve against the run this season. The Bucs only allowed Miami to rush for a total of 62 yards on Monday night.

BEWARE OF COUCH: No, QB Brad Johnson has not been moving furniture around in his home again, but Browns' Tim Couch has been moving his offense up the field. Against the Packers last week, Couch led the Browns down the field on two different 90-yard drives. Couch has also had an impressive training camp and has already benefited from new head coach Butch Davis' offense, which features a lot of play-action passes.

JOHNSON NEEDS PROTECTION: Bucs' QB Brad Johnson must receive more time to throw in order to improve on his 2-of-4 for 18 yards performance. Johnson had constant pressure from Miami's defense last week and was sacked three times in the first quarter.

DEFENSE MUST STEP UP: Tampa Bay's starting defensive unit allowed 145 net yards and 10 points against Miami. Although the Bucs' offense and special teams did not help their defense by setting the Dolphins up with good field position in the first quarter, they are hoping all of the kinks have been worked out in time for the Cleveland game. The Browns offense engineered two impressive 90-yard drives last week against Green Bay.

FLYNN'S FINAL: It would be unfair to try and measure the Bucs' progress after Monday night's loss to the Dolphins. But to be a successful team, you must be able to adjust. Tampa Bay cannot afford to let QB Brad Johnson be sacked three times like he was against Miami. Johnson is a pocket passer and like any successful quarterback, he needs time to throw.

Bucs' rookie LT Kenyatta Walker has proved he can hang with the best speed rushers in the NFL so far, but Browns DE Courtney Brown will test Walker's capabilities against a power rusher.

It is early, but the battle between QB Shaun King and QB Ryan Leaf for the back-up spot has become a wash after one game. The Browns secondary finished dead last in the league last year and even though Cleveland held Green Bay to three points last week, they did not do much to improve this unit in the offseason. All four of the Bucs' quarterbacks need to do well against a secondary like Cleveland's. If the Bucs' offensive line can provide adequate time for their quarterbacks to throw on Saturday night, one might be able to truly get a feel for how much these quarterbacks are progressing.

It is never easy to win on the road, but Tampa Bay will get their first taste of traveling when they travel to Cleveland. At this point, wins are not a necessity, however, improving on last week's performance and remaining injury-free are.


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