The final segment for the season, as the Browns are obviously not qualified to for playoff football at this point in time. They are making a run at a better record then last year, with a chance to win their 5th, and 4th in a row, this Sunday at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags led by RB Maurice Jones-Drew, are still looking at a very outside shot at making the playoffs if they can beat the Browns and if several other things happen in their favor. The Browns are looking also to end the season on a high note and with an impressive 4 game win streak, in the 3 game win streak they carry into Sunday’s contest the running game has been the constant star. The Browns have moved up to 10th in the League in running yards per game, impressive, for a team that was so abysmal just a few weeks ago. Other then another win, there are some things that they need to do and I would like to see them do this Sunday…
– Run wild. The Browns need to continue to run much more then they pass, with the lack of playmakers in the passing game and a QB who can barely complete passes to wide open receivers. I would love to see Jerome Harrison get 30 more carries Sunday, and he needs to if the Browns are going to win this game. If the Browns can score early and get the Jags on the defensive, they can start to control the game on the ground. Harrison is proving that he can be the feature back, and he needs to have a good game for the Browns to win. I don’t think Mangini will give him 39 carries again this week against a much better run defense then the team has been seeing, but he will get a good share of the ball. I want to see Mangini get the ball to Cribbs a few more times out of the Flash package and see if they can get the Jaguars defense off balance and open things up for Harrison.
– More good blocking. Lawrence Vickers, Joe Thomas, Alex Mack and the rest of the o-line guys have really got their acts together during the last few weeks. Mack has shown tremendous growth this season and Joe Thomas is a pro-bowler for the 3rd straight year. Vickers should have had another trip to the Pro Bowl for everything he brings to the table, but regardless of whether or not he got chosen, he will go out there and bust some skulls and open up big holes for Harrison and Cribbs all day long. It is just what he does. If the line gives DA time he can stay calm and not turn the ball over, and if they open up the holes for Harrison he will take advantage of it and get big time yards on every carry.
– Play defense. I know that they got 4 sacks and 3 interceptions against the Raiders, but come on. They let Charlie Frye throw for 300+. This is a much better offensive team then the Raiders, boasting one of the better QB’s in the league in David Gerrard, a couple good receivers, a decent TE and one of the best RB’s in the league. The defense needs to come out with the aggression they showed in shutting down Pittsburgh and get to the QB early and often. They need to make it so that someone not named Maurice Jones Drew beats them. He is the teams best rusher, obviously, and the only good one they have, and he is the 2nd leading receiver as well. Take him away from the gameplan by shutting him down and the offense becomes very stale. If they can play solid defense, they have a chance to win.
– Give the ball to the playmakers. I know I mentioned this earlier, but I can’t stress enough how important this is for the Browns to win. If Cribbs can get big returns going and if Harrison gets his chances to bust off big runs, then the team’s offense will have a good flow to it. I would love to see Cribbs get a few more looks from the wildcat and see what he can do as a power combo with Harrison. Maybe actually hand the ball off to Cribbs out of a traditional formation like I have been suggesting they do all year long. Just sayin…
– The trenches. On both sides of the ball the team needs to win up front. They have been doing a very good job of it the last few weeks, dominating on the offensive line and doing a very good job creating pressure with the lineman and the linebackers on defense. This trend needs to continue in order for them to the game. Keep the QB clean and get blocks for Harrison and on the other end make sure the opposing QB is on his butt frequently and allow Mo Jo Drew to get into the open field.
So there it is. The last game of the season for the Browns. Can they finish with 5 wins, or will they duplicate last season’s 4? Hopefully we get to actually watch the game this week without finding a special place to go or going to the stadium. I am in New Orleans for New Years and maybe because its kind of close to Florida, not really, but maybe, I might be able to watch it. For the last time this season, Lets Go Browns!