5 Questions with Dawgs By Nature
Kick Returns, Play-Action Key for Browns
tommasse: Do you think Cleveland gains any advantage by having Romeo Crennel game-planning against a head coach he knows so well? How much does this game mean to Crennel's place on the proverbial "hot seat"?
Chris Pokorny: One of my major gripes about Romeo Crennel is that it seems like our gameplan is often weak, particularly defensively. Last week, we saw Ken Whisenhunt get the last laugh over the Pittsburgh Steelers, just like we saw Eric Mangini get at least one laugh over Bill Belichick last season. In comparison, there doesn't seem to be any heat between Crennel and the Patriots though. New England seems to get so creative with their schemes, and Crennel has been away from the team for over a season now, so I doubt that he would have too much of a competitive advantage.
In terms of being on the hot seat, Crennel has already taken himself off of that by winning two division games this season. No one is talking about blaming Crennel in this game if the Browns lose, because we know what we're up against: a team that has completely dominated the opposition through the first four weeks.
tommasse: What do you make of the Browns 2-2 start, especially the wins over two division foes (Cincinnati and Baltimore)?
Chris: It has been huge, mainly because there was consistency in offense in both victories. It has been a very long time since the Browns have held a winning record in our division, often making us the "joke" of the AFC North. Last year, we didn't even win a single game against a divisional foe. After last week's game, it was refreshening to see the Ravens crow about losing to a team that was as "low" as the Browns were. Hopefully, the division wins are a sign of things to come for the remainder of the season.
For more from Chris Pokorny, click 'Read More' ... To see my answers to Chris's questions, visit Dawgs By Nature.
tommasse: Not sure if you noticed, but Derek Anderson was a 6th-round draft pick. Tom Brady was a 6th-round draft pick. About a dozen guys have been labeled with the "Next Tom Brady" moniker. Is Anderson next, and can he be the next Tom Brady?
Chris: There's not a chance that Derek Anderson will ever be the type of quarterback Tom Brady is, but there's a chance that he can be a winning quarterback. I know that the players are different, but in a way I'd like to compare what Anderson is doing to what Jon Kitna did for the Cincinnati Bengals several years ago. Kitna stunned everyone by nearly leading Cincinnati to the playoffs, while Carson Palmer sat on the bench. Although Kitna had a solid season, Palmer was the starting quarterback the next season. Everyone in Cleveland is appreciative of what Anderson has brought to the table, but we're also realistic about the fact that we're still grooming Quinn for next year.
tommasse: How does Cleveland attack the Patriots defense? Do you prefer to see more or less of Rodney Harrison?
Chris: Harrison is a solid player, and I don't expect his absences prior to this game to be a detriment to New England's defense (so obviously, anyone would prefer to see less of him). In terms of attacking the Patriots defense, we're actually not going to depend on our offense at first: we're going to depend on kick returner Joshua Cribbs. Cribbs leads the NFL in kick return average I believe, and that's due to the fact that he's been constantly returning kickoffs around the 40-yard line. That will cause problems for any defense, because Anderson has been fundamentally sound when getting the ball to Kellen Winslow, Braylon Edwards, and Joe Jurevicius off of playaction.
A key adjustment that Anderson may have to make though is recognizing when the Patriots play zone coverage secretly over the middle. Against the Bengals a few weeks ago, the defense left the middle wide open all game long, and Anderson had a field day. The following week against the Raiders, Anderson was picked off twice by linebackers because of throws over the middle in which he was baited into a throw. Last week, Ed Reed intercepted him once, but there were instances in which Anderson was comfortably able to throw over the middle.
tommasse: Can the Browns stop New England's offense? What Cleveland player is the key to that plan?
Chris: Our best defensive player is linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, our first-round draft pick from last year's draft, because he will get around the edge of the line if he's not double-teamed. However, since our defensive line is so weak, it's fairly easy for most teams to neutralize Wimbley a majority of the game. The Browns' key defensively is simple: stop Randy Moss. Believe me, it's intimidating to know that New England can then throw Wes Welker and Donté Stallworth at you just as easily, but Moss has made the most significant impact amongst the group.
Because the Patriots move him around a lot, I expect him to be double teamed throughout the game with the help of a safety. Our best safety is Sean Jones, but I'm going to actually say that our other safety, Brodney Pool, is the key to the plan. Pool has been killed a few times this year in man to man coverage, but when he is given free reign to fly around, such as when he's helping in on a double team, he has shown the ability to make a big play.
tommasse: Thanks to Dawgs By Nature's Chris Pokorny for helping out this week with 5 Questions.