By: Eric Grinnell
1. Contain A.J. Green
The key to stopping the Bengals offense is to stop A.J. Green. Green is already one of the better receivers in the game, and constitutes a majority of the Bengals passing game (last year, Green accounted for 7 of Andy Dalton’s 20 passing TDs). If you stop Green, you should be able to stop Dalton and make the Bengals one-dimensional.
The Browns did a pretty good job containing A.J. Green last season from a numbers standpoint, as he only had 4 catches for 151 yards and 1 TD. But Green basically won both games by coming up with two big plays that proved to be the difference (one was the infamous Game 1 play where the Browns D couldn’t get out of the huddle). The Browns will have to find a way to contain Green for a full game, and will have to do it without Joe Haden. Dimitri Patterson will get the start for Haden, and I would expect the Browns to game plan to give Patterson, or Sheldon Brown, some safety help over the top.
2. Get tight ends Jordan Cameron and Ben Watson more involved
The Browns entire offense was a disappointment from an execution standpoint in Week 1, but I also think it was disappointing from a coaching standpoint, as the tight ends were not involved at all. Ben Watson and Jordan Cameron are solid weapons, and I didn’t understand why they were so under utilized against the Eagles.
Getting the tight ends involved will be key for two reasons. First, it will give Weeden some easier throws, which will help get some of his confidence back. Second, the Bengals are starting Taylor Mays at one of the safety spots, and he is a liability in coverage. I have to think that Ben Watson, and especially Jordan Cameron, can take advantage of matchups against Mays.
3. Stop Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap
The strength of the Bengals defensive is their D-line. Geno Atkins was an All-Pro last year, and Carlos Dunlap is one of the best young pass-rushers in the league. Obviously, the Browns O-line still is a bit shaky, but they need to make sure that they stop Atkins and Dunlap. If these two have big games, it could be another long day for Brandon Weeden and the Browns offense.
4. Limit turnovers
It doesn’t take an expert to tell you that this game will be low scoring. The Bengals win games by playing a controlled, physical type of game. They play a pretty conservative game (outside of 2-3 deep balls to A.J. Green a game), and try to win games with a solid running game, and solid defense. This means that limiting turnovers will be huge. The Browns can not expect to win this game if they turn the ball three or more times. It’s just going to be too low scoring. Also, the Browns defense won’t be able to force as many turnovers as they did last week because the Bengals offense is just so conservative.