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best and most accurate pre-game breakdown i've seen


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(disclosure: this was written by a steeler fan, so it is written from that point of view. that said, it's also one of the most accurate and objective analysis i've ever seen from a normal fan)




Last week, the Steelers slipped away from the Lions. They had a solid lead and were putting up points pretty effectively early. Offensively, the Steelers got a little greedy and went away from an offensive plan that was working to go for the big play and the kill. It backfired and ended up being a game. When the Lions had the ball, I expected Stafford to be the trigger man and I felt that Lebeau would dismantle him. Culpepper started and showed why seasoned veterans often get the start over rookies. He played smart, with poise, and used all his weapons. In last week's analysis, I wrote this statement: "If Culpepper starts, he may exploit some of the other weapons, but that remains to be seen." That is exactly what Culpepper did, he let everyone on offense touch the football and was savvy enough to spread it around finding holes. So, I missed badly, but I do understand why I missed, I underestimated Culpepper and over-estimated Arians ability to not get greedy. Bring in the Clowns.



Steelers Defense VS Browns Offense.

I look at the Browns offense and one thing confuses me, how did they ever beat the Bills? Are the Bills that bad? In Cleveland's five games this season, they have scored six points or less in three of them. The Browns have four touchdowns on the season and one of those is a punt return. I usually start with the rushing attack, but I am going to start with the passing attack. All indications are the Browns will stay with Derek Anderson. This season, Anderson is horrid. I mean, he cannot find any type of rhythm. His passer rating is a 39 and he is completing 46.4% of his passes. While Quinn is not making Browns fans giddy with hope, he is playing much better. So, if Mangini leaves Anderson as his starter, all I know to say is thank you.


In addition to starting a struggling quarterback, Mangini traded Edwards for a handful of magic beans. Apparently the Jets were unable to get UPS to deliver those magic beans to Cleveland, so they stuck them in Chansi Stuckey's pocket to deliver them. The Browns will start Massaquoi and Furrey at wide receiver and while both are capable NFL receivers, neither are true number one guys. In fact, Massaquoi may make a solid number two as would their other draft choice Brian Robiskie while Furrey is, at best, a good number 3. With this said, the Steelers have faced more experienced, more talented corners in every game this season. With the return of Polamalu and the Browns struggles at quarterback, I do not expect their passing game to be a threat.


The Browns offense will hinge on the running of Jamal Lewis and Jerome Harrison. They have to run. With the Steelers missing Aaron Smith, most teams would focus on running right at his replacement. The Browns run well in two areas, they sweep outside left better well but their strongest runs are between the center and right tackle. It is their sweet spot when running and will attack the Steelers defense at their weakest spot. The problem they will face with this is St. Clair is battling a hand injury and one has to wonder how effective he will be facing a rotation of pretty active replacements.


Here is how I attack the Browns. My first step is to get in Hampton's ear. He is facing Alex Mack, a rookie, who is getting his sixth professional start. This is a matchup that Hampton has to dominate. He needs to force the Browns to double team him with Mack and Fraley, who is playing right guard. Keisel will have his hands full with Steinbach and Harrison and Thomas should be an epic matchup. Harrison has to keep outside containment because as I mentioned before, the Browns like to run the left edge. On the other side, if Hampton is drawing the double team, that means Kirschke, Eason, or Hood are matched up with St. Clair and we get a tight end or running back on Woodley, a matchup Woodley has to win. This would also be a good week to run blitz the inside linebackers. When the Browns have Anderson fling the ball into the air, we line Taylor up with Massaquoi and Gay gets Furrey unless Robiskie plays, then Gay gets Robiskie and we give Townsend Furrey. While the Browns have Royal and Heiden at tight end, I do not think that they are as strong at tight end as the Lions were and Anderson is not great at working the check downs to the tight ends.


So, we crush the run, blitz the pass, force them to turn the ball over.



Steelers Offense VS Browns Defense.

If the Browns have a strength this year, it is the defense. Shaun Rogers is simply a beast. On either side of Rogers, they have Coleman and Smith, two very serviceable defensive ends. They move Wimbley around some this season with him mainly playing on the left and he is having a solid season. At the other outside linebacker spot, they leave something to be desired. The Browns inside linebackers are in on a lot of plays. The Browns secondary is young and shows some promise, but I do not know if they face a team that gives the quarterback some time, if they are good enough to stay with a potent passing attack.


Now that I have given the defense some praise, they simply are not playing well as a unit. They are worst in the NFL at stopping the run. They are tenth against the pass, but who needs to pass when you can gash a team on the ground. The Browns are 29th in total yards allowed and last in scoring defense. Here is how I get after them and a lot of you are not going to like this. I come out early throwing the football. I run no huddle using a few wide receiver screens, work Miller on outs behind the wide receiver, and look for some middle screens and dumps to backs, especially with Mendenhall showing a great ability to settle into openings. If this works early, I use it to wear down Rogers. I want him sucking air. If I can get him out, slow the interior push of the pocket, then I can settle into stretching some deeper routes. If I cannot get him out, we will struggle running the ball unless we double him at the nose because of his strong push, he can disrupt our pulling guards and blow plays up without getting a hand on the running back.


If the no huddle fails me early, I run the edges. The stretch draw should be effective. It may also pay to run some misdirection with reverses and standard runs with reverse action. When the Steelers look to pass, I work Miller early and often. I do not think that the Browns linebackers can run with Miller. I like the matchup of Ward on Eric Wright. Wright is a younger corner that does not play extremely physical and I use Ward's experience, great route running, and physical nature to rough this corner up. I like Holmes on McDonald again using crossing routes and the quick slant. The Browns show very poor depth in the secondary and Wallace could have a huge day on their 3rd corner. I would also not be afraid of going with 4 wide receivers using Miller in the side car beside Ben. This is a game where going 4 wide and using Sweed as an inside receiver could not only chew up the Browns defense, but since the Browns corners would have matchup issues with Sweed as well, it could get him back on track. This is a game that hinges on our ability to give Ben a little time. If that happens, the offense can grind this defense down and have their way with them.


Special Teams.

The Steelers have an edge in the field goal kicking department. While Cundiff is perfect this season, he traditionally is a career under 80% kicker. Reed, who has struggled at times this season, is usually pretty solid. Zastudil is an excellent punter and I would call this a push. Cribs can flat out be scary as a return guy and as good as our coverage units have been, I still give them an edge in the return department. So, we get an edge with the kicker, it is a push with the punter, and I give them an edge with their return game.




thought you guys might like to read this. anyway, my prediction is.................



The NFL's reigning World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers : 34


The browns : 6



like i've said plenty of times this year, the browns ARE moving in the right direction............it just ain't gonna be the year that they make the leap into legitimacy.

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A very well thought out breakdown. Although I agree that we are highly likely to lose this game, I am hopeful that the spread isn't 4 touchdowns.


Having said that, this could be DA's last game as a Browns starter. If his pass completions / QB rating match those of the last game, it would be silly to continue with him. In fact if I were Managini, with a loss to the Steeler tomorrow, I would use the rest of the season to develop my young players. That means Quinn, Hall, Viekune, Robinski and anyone else that can be a better player next year through field experience this year. I would accept a one-win season if it benefits the development of this team and answers the questions of who goes and who stays.


What gets me angry is that we don't have a #1 wide-out anymore. I know BE was not the answer in Cleveland but as we head into the next draft, we need a QB, RB and WR. We need a better OL, better LB's, better DB's. This is going to take years of rebuilding I'm afraid.

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"I look at the Browns offense and one thing confuses me, how did they ever beat the Bills? Are the Bills that bad? " Excellent question. I think the Browns won only by avoiding losing.


I like the direction the Browns defense is going. They play with energy and appear to be improving every game. I like their attitude. I think they're the reason we didn't lose. That, and special teams.


The offense is definitely a work in progress. There has been some improvement in the running game and thank God because there is no passing game. I can't remember when I've seen an uglier game than the one against the Bills. Anderson stunk up the joint. It's hard for me to imagine Quinn playing WORSE than that. Of course it's equally hard for me to imagine Quinn playing much BETTER than that either, so I guess we're up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

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I think people are making too big of a deal about the money and escalator clauses for BQ. If DA is awful tomorrow, they will have no choice but to re-promote BQ to the starting QB position. I would be extremely upset if they didn't. Once again, DA is getting a chance and not producing.

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