Big Pittsburgh game this week. Kind of ironic that Steelers/Browns is happening the same weekend as OSU/Michigan, but where as OSU and Michigan are the two best teams in college football, the Browns and Steelers are fighting for the basement of the AFC North.
There are alot of quotes from the Browns locker room about this game, and the lasting embarassment from last year. Heck, Savage was pretty blunt that he was building our team with Pittsburgh in mind. Of course, part of that building was bringing in LeCharles Bentley to make Casey Hampton his bitch, and we know how that has turned out to date.
But, I don't think anyone is fooled that the 2005 Pittsburgh team was REALLY that good. They're more a testament to their idiot-coach, who inspired them to play beyond their level of talent. In the playoffs, they squeaked by with alot of luck (or, from Carson Palmer's POV, dirty tactics). In the Super Bowl, even luck wasn't enough and they were dependent on the refs.
Pittsburgh probably isn't as bad as their record suggests, as they've had alot of decent performances that were derailed but some very costly mistakes. But then, the same goes for the Browns. We're a handful of plays away from being 6-3 instead of 3-6. Lets just hope this isn't the week that Pittsburgh decides to wake up and try to go on another end of season run.
Our pass defense should again be respectable. Holly won't be able to shut down Hines Ward as he has other WRs, but he'll still be able to keep him from being too big a piece. I like Pool against Heath Miller. With Rothlisberger's problems this season, we should see some more blitzing on obvious passing downs.
I'm more worried about our run defense. I think that Fast Willie is more comparable to Warrick Dunn, so our success against Dunn last week gives me some hope. But I'm not yet sold on our D's ability to defend the run, particularly up the middle. With Pittsburgh's center likely not playing, that might keep them from using Davenport to be the bruiser. But Cowher is smrt (I mean, smart) enough to realize where our weakness lies.
Our offense has its own issues to worry about first, before we even think about what the Steelers bring to the table. If we can't run against Atlanta, we won't be able to run against Pittsburgh. And, while Pittsburgh's secondary has proven to be a weakness, the problem will be holding the Blitz off long enough for Charlie to be able to make a pass.
I see us winning if:
- Our special teams continues playing great. Richardson can help us win the battle for field position, our return guys will help him, and hopefully Borg Phil Dawson will be around to score when the offense fails.
- Our defense doesn't give up the big plays, holds them to field goals, and creates some turnovers. I think Pittsburgh will have plenty of 5-6 yard runs and 6-7 yard pass completions, enough for them to keep the chains moving. But if we can limit them to that, we'll have more opportunities to put some pressure on them and maybe cause a turnover.
- Our offense is able to establish SOME consistency. I see alot of three and outs, with our successful drives coming on long passes. If we can score quickly and force Pittsburgh to turn to their passing game, I think that our defense will look alot better than if our offense struggles early.
I heard alot of grumbles about Davidson lately. While I haven't fallen in love with our offense now that he's in charge, I just want to remind everyone that he has now been in charge for 3 games (4 weeks), and he is still using Carthon's playbook and Carthon's offense. There is only so much change he can do right now. BUT, because he's getting his time in now, he should be in a MUCH better position come next season to make the changes that he sees fit. So hopefully come July we won't be reading all those questions about "Can the Browns young offense adjust to their new coordinator?"
I've also seen alot of speculation about our next head coach (I think alot of it has come from Grossi, but I'm not sure). Particularly, about Cowher or Jim Tressell being our coach in 07 or 08.
A) Romeo isn't going anywhere. Even if we lose the next 7 games (provided they aren't blow-outs), he should be back.
B) Cowher and his chin may have lucked into/bought a Super Bowl ring for Pittsburgh, but I can guarantee you that he would not be the "missing key" to turn this franchise around.
C) Let Tressel stay at OSU. Even if he could get the Browns to mediocrity, it still wouldn't be worth it if it meant we would lose our DOMINANCE in the Michigan rivalry.
And with that note, I would like to close with a video that my good man Nick shared with me:
Link is SFAnywhereAnytime, but its loading slowly, must be alot of OSU fans getting refreshers. . .