Roundtable Discussion With Michael Loede: Browns at Raiders
With the Browns visiting the Raiders tomorrow, I thought it’d be a good idea to pick the brain of Michael Loede over at RaidersGab.com about Sunday’s match-up with the visiting Cleveland Browns. Mike is in a very interesting situation, as he’s a Raiders fan, but lives in the city of Cleveland. He roots for the Browns, but only when they’re not playing the Raiders.
Anyone who reads BrownsGab.com, as well as my posts, knows that I absolutely refuse to predict scores for the Browns’ games. I will, however, complete the roundtable conversation and answer the same three questions for my Cleveland Browns.
Who worries me the most? – The obvious choices here are Darren McFadden and Jason Campbell, as the Raiders’ offense pretty much revolves around these two players. However, I decided on a less conventional pick and went with Darius Heyward-Bey. DHB was Oakland’s 1st Rd. draft pick a year ago, and was less-than impressive in rookie season. Just when it appeared that he was working on becoming a bust, DHB has appears to be turning the corner as a play-making WR over the last two games. In just his last two games, DHB has recorded 11 receptions for 214 yards and 1 TD. He only has 16 catches on the year, and 263 receiving yards with the 1 TD. With Cleveland’s star corner, Joe Haden, questionable for this game, DHB will benefit from not having the Browns best corner shutting him down. If DHB has a big game, they Browns D better hope they’ve contained Darren McFadden, or it could be blow-out city for Cleveland.
Who needs to step-up for Cleveland? – For me, it’s Peyton Hillis. After all the drama through the first four games concerning his contract situation, it’s time to put-up, or shut-up, for Hillis. There’s no doubt that he’s one of the more talented, physical backs in the NFL, but he has had only had one really good year so far in his career and that was last year. The hold-up on his contract situation appears to be the guaranteed length, not money. You almost have to applaud Heckert & Co. for not jumping the gun on Hillis after just one good season. With that said, I think Hillis is vital for Cleveland’s success on offense this season. As Hillis goes, so does the Cleveland offense. (See Indianapolis game). If Peyton can reestablish himself as a threat on both the ground and through the air, and do so successfully, the Browns should be able to move the ball on the Raiders D. Oakland’s defense isn’t as good as their offense and the Browns need to take advantage of that – with Hillis. Shurmur can’t expect Colt McCoy to throw the ball 61 times like he did in Cleveland’s loss to Tennessee and should rely heavily on Hillis. As he proved last year, he’s more than capable of carrying a heavy load.
Keys to victory for a Browns victory? – Wow. Where to start? First of all, Shurmur has to do a better job with the play-calling on offense. If he calls a more well-balanced game with a nice mix of passing and running plays, the offense should be just fine. If McCoy throws the ball 40+ times and Hillis has less than 20 touches, it’ll be a long day for the Browns offensively. On defense, they need to do a few things: be aggressive, contain McFadden and pressure Campbell. The Browns ‘D’ is ranked in the top ten in terms of total defense, but struggle against stopping the run which isn’t good news when facing the Raiders’ second-ranked rushing attack. Campbell is one of the more inconsistent QBs in the NFL, so getting pressure on him is critical. Not only will pressure on the QB (hopefully) create turnovers, it’ll prevent Oakland from being able to take (as many) shots down field. If Cleveland plays well on offense, and can (somewhat) contain Darren McFadden, they have a shot against the Raiders in what’s going to be an extremely emotional game in Oakland.
Well, there you have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s ‘Roundtable Discussion’ about the Browns – Raiders game on Sunday. All that’s left to do, is watch the game!
As always, Go Browns!