Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blogging With The Enemy: Ravens v. Browns

Pete Grasso from reached out to me last week to see if I’d be interested in doing a “5 Questions” piece with him. Despite being a Browns fan Pete seemed like a good guy and he has a great last name that ends in a vowel. So I said, “yes.” Besides, he can’t help it if he’s from Cleveland…

First, being a gracious host here are the 5 questions from Pete…

1) Given what the Cowboys and Steelers defenses did to the Browns, are you licking your chops?

Not necessarily. The Browns beat the Ravens twice in ’07 and they’ve struggled to contain Braylon Edwards. If the Ravens don’t put pressure on a shaky Derek Anderson, Edwards and Kellen Winslow could be problematic for the Ravens secondary – a secondary that has struggled to stay healthy.

The Browns defense is another story and they will see a different style of offense from the Ravens than they are accustomed to seeing from Baltimore. Cam Cameron, a mentor of sorts to [Browns’ Offensive Coordinator] Rob Chudzinski will attack the Browns secondary after establishing the run through play action passing, something that rookie QB Joe Flacco handles like a veteran. The Browns can also look for some no huddle attacks from the Ravens in part to limit substitutions and wear down the DT’s like Shaun Rogers who looked gassed towards the end of the Browns contest against the Steelers.

2) How satisfied are you with your QB situation in Baltimore? Who's your pick to start?

Flacco gets the start but personally I had hoped that either Troy Smith or Kyle Boller would win the job to enable Flacco to learn a bit from the sidelines. That won’t happen because Smith contracted a bacterial infection coupled with tonsillitis just when it seemed the job would be his. Boller has a torn labrum and is on injured reserve.

The rookie looked very solid in his pro debut but if Flacco goes down, John Harbaugh will call on the great Todd Bouman.

I know what you are thinking…hoping…

3) With the changes the Ravens made during the offseason, what were your expectations coming into this season?

I thought the Ravens were a 7 win team entering the season. I just thought there were too many question marks at quarterback, offensive line and in the secondary. After one game it looks like the Ravens have done a better job addressing those positions than I thought, particularly with the development of Flacco, the meshing of the offensive line plus the added depth with former Pro Bowler Willie Anderson and the return of Chris McAlister, Samari Rolle and Ed Reed to the starting secondary.

That said, it is only one game but it is a start.

If the Ravens can play consistently and stay healthy, they will compete. Let’s face it the AFC North isn’t exactly a strong division and the Ravens could win as many as nine games. But staying healthy is hardly a given for a team that starts 6 players on defense who are 30+.

4) What's your scouting report on the Browns telling you about Sunday's game?

I think the Ravens need to be physical with Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow. I expect short drops from Derek Anderson as he looks to get the ball off quickly. Jamming his favorite targets will force Anderson to read through his progressions and those short drops might ultimately lead to a few unwelcomed meetings with Ravens’ tackle Haloti Ngata who is emerging as a force in the NFL. The Browns will have to beat the Ravens by air and more than likely they’ll need a couple of big plays. The Ravens aren’t worried about former teammate Jamal Lewis.

On offense the Ravens will try and pick up where they left off last week – running the football and leaving Joe Flacco with manageable third down conversions. They will test the Browns’ shaky secondary and you may even see Todd Heap flanked outside the numbers to create mismatches. Look out for rookie Ray Rice.

When all is said and done and the clock reads 0:00, the Ravens will walk away with a 20-17 victory.

5)Are you as sick as we are of hearing people say, "It's the old Browns versus the new Browns?" I mean, it's been long enough, can't people get over it already? These are two different teams.

Actually we seldom hear that phrase in Baltimore but if it makes Cleveland Browns fans feel better, have at it. The Super Bowl XXXV win probably has something to do with our relative indifference towards the statement. That said, be happy with your new stadium and old colors. Baltimore would love to have a stadium that didn’t require permanent seat licenses to help finance its construction and there is no question about the town’s affinity for the horseshoes of the Baltimore Colts.


And now back to your regularly scheduled programming...

My questions for
Pete Grasso...

1. Derek Anderson has struggled not only this season but also down the stretch in '07. How much rope does he have left with Brady Quinn waiting in the wings?

Not much. Personally, I've been calling for Quinn since the beginning. He hasn't ever had a fair shot at the starting job. Whenever he gets on the field, the fans go crazy. And, whenever Anderson struggles, the "Brady, Brady …" chants begin. If he struggles again and we lose to the Ravens, I expect Brady to play against Cincy.

2. Joe Thomas is without a doubt a stud offensive tackle. Despite that if Browns fans had their way; do you think that they would have preferred Adrian Peterson who the Browns passed on in the 2007 draft?

No, I don't think so. I think most fans agree that Peterson wouldn't be the running back he is today if he had to play behind the old Browns O-line. They may have been some clamoring for him leading up to the draft, but the consensus pick was Thomas, who we knew we needed to anchor that line if the offense was going to improve at all.

3. The Browns had legitimate playoff hopes for 2008. History tells us that 0-2 teams rarely make it to the post season. Can the Browns turn it around particularly with all of the question marks on defense?

It's hard to say. The wind has definitely been taken out of the sails of a lot of Browns fans after these first two weeks. It's been a reality check for sure. The offense isn't producing and the defense has its obvious weaknesses. These next two games – division games – will tell us a lot about the rest of the season.

4. At this time last year Romeo Crennel was on extremely thin ice. GM Phil Savage wasn't far behind. Can they both survive if the Browns win fewer games in '08 than they did in '07?

I think Savage will survive. But, if the Browns head into the bye week 0-4, Crennel may not survive. Especially if Anderson continues to struggle. Let's face it, Anderson played pretty well for most of the season last year and he pretty much saved Romeo's job. But he struggled down the stretch. So, since he's continued to struggle this year, it may be Romeo who suffers as he was his biggest supporter.

5. Cleveland seems to be enamored with former Ravens. As it stands today, Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis and Bart Scott could all be free agents in '09. Of the three, which would Cleveland covet the most and which the least? And why?

I wouldn't mind Terrell Suggs coming to Cleveland … I think he'd really help us out where we need it. Ray Lewis, in my opinion, is way past his prime. We've already got one linebacker (McGinest) who is too old to really be effective. The only difference is Lewis jumps on piles after plays so he can get credit for tackles.


Harryos29 said...

harry o 29
we are NOT the OLD BROWNS...Remember that...
...ED REED two Picks from DEREK Anderson ...I gaurantee it.....

Jeremiah said...

Did that Clown even watch the film from the first week? Ray Lewis did a little more than hop on a pile or two. What a steaming load of brown. Willie McGinnis is still better than Wimbley,should been Nagta and you could have kept your only cover corner and 3rd round pick.

Back to Ray. Seriously do people even look at the games or see that he is 33 and must be way past his prime? Look at T.O., or Rod Woodson, Shannon Sharpe, all guys he talks about when comparing his comitment to conditioning.
Someone find me a highlight where Ray looks slow, or one runnig back who can say he got the best of him at any point in the last 2 years? LJ broke one long run for 65 yards that did not get a TD, and 2.2 ypc the rest of the day.

Harryos29 said...

To Browns FANS.....what was the final score on 9/21 ??
...hmmm I think I saw 28-10
harry O' 29 NUFF SAID..