Miami Dolphins (0-5) at Cleveland Browns (2-3)
So how far will the Dolphins fall before picking up their first win? That's the question that many are asking themselves this week as we head into Sunday's matchup with the Browns in Cleveland. And speaking of Cleveland, let's hope that those bugs that irritated Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain enough to cause him to throw a wild pitch, allowing in a run, stay far away from Cleveland Brown Stadium on Sunday. The last thing we need are Dolphin fans acting like Yankee fans and blaming these bugs for their potential struggles on Sunday.
So what's going to be the gameplan? Hmm, I wonder? Could it be Ronnie Brown being handed the ball over and over again? It better be, if you ask me. Sure, Cleveland's secondary is struggling ,and we'll get to that, but Brown is continuing to prove that he is an elite running back after all. He currently leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage and is looking for his 4th consecutive 100 yard game (which would be one fewer than the team record of 5 set by Ricky Williams). And their is no reason why he shouldn't reach the century mark yet again. This Browns' defense is allowing 157 yards per game on the ground and give up 4.9 yards per carry (yes, that's even worse than the Dolphins' rush defense). Just last week, the Patriots' Sammy Morris ran for 102 yards on 21 carries. Sure, New England's offensive line is very good, but this Miami line has been improving each week as well. The way I see it, especially considering Cleo Lemon is starting, Brown needs to have at least 25 carries in this game. The yards may be a bit harder to come by than expected (due to Cleveland tempting Lemon to pass), but 25+ carries and 100+ yards should be easily attainable.
Even with all the success Ronnie has been having, though, the attention of Dolphin fans will likely fall on Cleo Lemon as he makes his 2nd career start. His first one last year against Indy wasn't too bad, throwing for over 200 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but his accuracy off at times and he showed some poor decision making, leading to a completion percentage of just 50%. Last week, Cleo seemed uncomfortable in the pocket. There were a number of times that he didn't set his feet, which caused throws to be at the receivers' legs and feet. He also seemed to get rid of the ball too quickly when he sw the blitz coming, causing some bad decisions or inaccurate throws. Then there was the bad interception which was thrown seemingly right at C.C. Brown. But there were also times where he looked good, like on a few of those quick slant throws in which he puts the ball perfectly in the right spot. This makes me think that he can be an effective quarterback.
Looking at the Browns' secondary, it's hard not to get excited if you're the opposing QB. They give up 267 yards per game through the air and have allowed an NFL worst 15 passing touchdowns. And to make things worse, starting safety Brodney Pool has been limited in practice and may not go. This will make a vulnerable Browns' secondary that much more vulnerable. However, keep in mind that defensive guru Romeo Crennel is the Browns' head coach. He'll surely draw up a solid gameplan to confuse Lemon, the inexperienced starter. Kamerion Wimbley and Antwan Peek are good pass rushers from the OLB spot in Crennel's 3-4 defense (especially Wimbley) and I'm sure Crennel will use these two edge rushers to make Lemon uncomfortable in the pocket.
There are two matchups in the passing game that particularly excite me for Sunday. The first is Leigh Bodden against Chris Chambers. Bodden is a guy that Browns fans thought could be a very good player. But so far, he's disappointed. It's likely he'll get the duty of covering Chris Chambers. Now, I know Lemon only threw to Chris 4 times last week, but you have to figure Chambers will be able to abuse Bodden, or anybody for that matter, that tries to cover him on Sunday. The other matchup I'm excited for is Ted Ginn against either rookie Eric Wright or scrub Daven Holly. It'll be one of these 2 covering Ginn, and we saw last week that Lemon isn't afraid to let loose on the deep throw. I really think this could be Ginn's day to truely be a factor. He's been coming along slowly, and now that Derek Hagan is slowed by a hamstring problem, Ginn could certainly make some plays on Sunday, especially against this secondary.
Second half of the preview to come tomorrow..