The Indianapolis Colts head north to face the Cleveland Browns this Sunday as the final leg of the season begins. I spoke with Jared Mueller, editor of Dawg Pound Daily, to get some behind the scenes information on this week’s opponent.
Click here to check out our answers to their questions.
1. Does Brian Hoyer really give the Browns the best chance to win, given how poorly he’s played in the past month? Is there any chance he is the team’s starting QB next season?
Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer have earned a ton of trust from Cleveland Browns fans. This decision, while not popular nationally, has been accepted locally. Hoyer’s struggles seem more indicative of the teams that we played than just Hoyer struggling. If the schedule had been ordered different, with the last month spread out instead of back to back, Hoyer wouldn’t look as bad.
Hoyer has struggled for 2 main reasons: 1) The Browns can’t get their rushing attack going, which is the basis for the offense, and 2) the return of Josh Gordon has dictated forcing throws in his direction instead of moving on in Hoyer’s progressions. Given all that I don’t think Hoyer is the starting QB next season. If the team makes the playoffs, which would be very tough, there is a chance but nothing better than 50/50.
2. What has been the Browns plan of attack most weeks on offense? The run game has suffered without Alex Mack, but there are talented receivers downfield. Is the issue execution at the quarterback position?
As stated above the Browns are a run first team. Mack getting hurt is a problem but the run game has been good to great in wins and downright terrible in losses. The run game sets up the passing game for the Browns. Play action passing, creative play design and unbalanced play calling all have helped the Browns get to this position. The offense, and Hoyer’s limitations, are not setup for a QB to dominate the game on his own. We rely heavily on our run game.
3. What do you expect from the defense this week? What is the plan to stop Andrew Luck and his weapons?
I expect a lot of creativity. Luck can get the ball out quickly and has a ton of weapons. He is also smart in dissecting man to man, zone, blitz, etc. I expect to see some interesting Rex Ryan type defensive calls. You could see man coverage mixed with zone more than most teams like to call.
Expect corner and safety blitzes hoping to have quicker players get Luck off his spot quickly. My big concern becomes Luck’s legs killing us; we have had problems with mobile QBs this season.
4. Who needs to step up on each side of the ball in order for the Browns to come away with a win?
For the offense it really is all about the line play, especially in the run game. If they are playing as one and allowing the team to get into manageable 2nd and 3rd downs the offense can really get flowing. On defense it is really hard to pinpoint one player.
With all the weapons and Luck’s football IQ, it really comes down to play calling from Defensive Coordinator Jim O’Neil with help from Head Coach mike Pettine. The Browns are talented all around the field, with the exception of nose tackle, and will benefit from the return of Karlos Dansby at ILB if he can go.
5. What is your predictions for Sunday’s game? Who wins and why?
I think it is a shootout type game but that the Browns try to keep Luck off the field with their running attack. I also think the Browns try to force the Colts to beat them on the ground. Putting less men in the box hoping Luck audibles to a run instead of allowing him to throw the ball all over the place. I think the Browns have more of a chance then many do but still predicting that the lose 33 -27.