This week I traded questions with Chris Pokorny from the clasically trained Browns blog Dawgs by Nature. Feeling the need to know these strange creatures from Cleveland, I sent Chris the following questions:
The Browns are a team that can't seem to put it together at the right time on offense. What do the Browns have to do to rack up the yards and play a good game against the Falcons?
Chris Pokorny: The Browns have attained their success this season when they've been able
to run the football with Reuben Droughns. That came twice - against the Oakland Raiders, and against the New York Jets, both of which were games
that Cleveland was victorious. Unfortunately, just about any team in the league can run on those teams, and the Browns can't even average above
three yards a carry against any other defense. Against the Chargers last week, our success came when Frye stepped back and delivered quick passes
to Kellen Winslow underneath and sideline passes to Joe Jurevicius. When given time, Cleveland's offense likes to go to the deep ball with Braylon
Edwards. However, the Browns literally only give Charlie Frye two seconds to throw the ball before he's hit. Against Atlanta, a quick paced passing
attack needs to be used, with several passes to players coming out of the backfield or in motion almost as soon as the ball is snapped.
Dave: I agree here. The key is going to be to get after Charlie Frye early and often, and the Falcons are certainly up to the task. If Frye doesn't have more turf in his helmet than the rest of the stadium, the line's not doing its job properly. Droughns must also be stopped, at all costs.
Phil Dawson did some nice things last week. If the game comes down to his leg, 45 yarder at the end of the 4th, do you think he's up to it?
Chris Pokorny: Dawson has always been well liked by Browns fans, but as you or any other fan in the league probably knows, Dawson rarely has an opportunity to kick a game-winning field goal. He has done it before, but I honestly can't remember the last time he was in that situation. He definitely has the leg to kick a 45-yard field goal and has solid focus under most circumstances. Personally, I'm confident any time he attempts kick, so I believe he would be up to the game winner.
Dave: Not much to say here, except that Dawson's on my keeper league team and has led a horrible team on paper to a 7-2 record. Cheers, Phil...but don't do it to the Falcons!
The Browns D has impressed me at times this year. Who is your best defensive player, and why?
Chris Pokorny: Our most impressive defensive player has been our safety, Sean Jones. Jones was selected two years ago in the second round by Butch Davis,
but this is his first "full" season in the NFL due to injuries in his first couple of seasons. Jones was in a two-way battle in training camp that
involved last year's second-round draft pick Brodney Pool and himself. Jones didn't see much action in the preseason, but the coaches were
constantly praising his ability. That ability has shown up this season, as he has been a ball hawk and a well-timed blitzer. The Browns are currently
without our top three cornerbacks that we began the season with, but the play at the safety position has elevated our pass defense to be one of the best in the league statistically.
Dave: I really know next to nothing about Sean Jones, but he sounds like the kind of the safety the Falcons could've used...should've sent him to us along with Chris Crocker, I guess. I'll be watching him on Sunday.
Many people have speculated that this is the day the Falcons try to pound it out on the ground again, after getting away from that strategy
the last couple weeks. If the Falcons have Dunn, Norwood, and Vick firing on all cylinders, what can we expect the Browns to do to counter them?
Chris Pokorny: The Browns defense is still not quite there in defending the run, as the Browns have allowed almost every running back to gain over 100 yards against them. Last week, LaDainian Tomlinson completely ran over the Browns in the fourth quarter, as our defense was definitely overmatched
in the 80 degree temperatures. We were also without Orpheus Roye and Willie McGinest, our top two defensive veterans. The point I'm trying to make is
that the Browns run defense does not get "gashed" every week because of major holes, but they do tire down easily because our offense cannot stay on the field long enough to give the defense the break that they need. If the Falcons are wise, they will run it on the ground with Dunn and Norwood and expect to have success. By the way, I suggest the Falcons test the Browns with several screen plays. Unless I'm mistaken, the Browns defense has not even seen an attempted screen play in our pass two games.
Dave: Hooray Warrick Dunn!
Who do you think is winning this game, and why? Who's the game MVP and/ or goat?
Chris Pokorny: Despite being frustrated as a Browns fan, they deserve credit for never allowing the game to be a blowout. During the second half of every game, the Browns have still had a legitimate shot at winning the game. Heck, last week, the Browns had a lead for a portion of the third quarter against the Chargers on the road. I know the Falcons lost to the Detroit Lions last week, but overall, Atlanta has a better football team, as
well as home field advantage. The Falcons should win this game by something along the lines of 23-16, the typical score for a Browns game. My guess is that the game MVP for the Falcons will be Warrick Dunn, assuming they stick with the ground game. The MVP for the Browns will be Dennis Northcutt, our slot receiver/punt returner who is continuing his return from injury. I can't think of a "goat" for the Falcons, but I'll take Joseph Andruzzi on our offensive line, as all of our linemen have trouble against pass rushing defenses.
Dave: Basically a mirror of my choices...not quite sure about Northcutt, mostly because I haven't heard much about him this year (I need to keep up with the Browns better, methinks.) I think the most likely Falcon goat--hey, that'd be a cool looking animal!--is probably Jason Webster, because he's going to have to cover somebody.
Here's to a great game. Look for my weekly injury report tomorrow afternoon, and a big time thanks to Chris for taking the time to trade questions. Be sure to stop by his site and read up on my answers to his questions and his coverage of the game, which is sure to be good.
Update [2006-11-10 0:6:53 by Dave the Falconer]: Jason Webster is officially out for the game, so my goat pick seems silly now, a mere half hour after it was posted. But that's OK, Jason...you'll always be a goat in my heart.