The Cleveland Browns are coming off an ugly, ugly season opener to face a decent conference foe. It's a precarious situation, and I've been rubbing my lucky Bernie Kosar action figure all week.
It seems a little overly simple to have a finite list of things Cleveland needs to do on Sunday to win. Everyone needs to do everything, pretty much. That includes the defense, who will have to adjust to a Haden-less existence while keeping a close eye on A.J. Green.
But because we live in a detail-oriented culture, I suppose I should give some specifics. Here are the major keys to Sunday's Ohio civil war.
Starting Doesn't Mean Finishing
This isn't about pride anymore. I honestly don't care to debate the wisdom of taking Brandon Weeden in the first round. There's no point, because we've got him. No amount of facepalms is going to change that.
However, the last thing we should be doing is leaving anyone in to make a point. After interception No. 3, I couldn't help but wonder if there was some other motivation at play. The coaching staff has to reduce every position to a simple question of performance.
If Weeden looks bad, maybe a mid-quarter change in personnel wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. Honestly, I couldn't care less if it affects his confidence. He's a big boy and an NFL starter; let's not break out the kid gloves.
As a kid, I once ate a handful of dirt in order to save face after losing a bet. Let's not spend the rest of the season picking mud out of our teeth.
Where's Waldo? Greg Little Edition
Alright, we finally have some talent at receiver. Now we need leadership.
The offense needs to involve Greg Little in a more meaningful way. But this doesn't just rest on his shoulders; there's an entire system at work that is begging for a fresh perspective. I'm not in the huddles (no matter how close I get my face to the TV screen) but I have a strong suspicion that there's a serious lack of leadership on this team. At times, everyone just seems lost.
I'm going to go out a limb here. If Little registers a few catches early on, given that Weeden is throwing reasonably well, we will pose a significantly larger offensive threat than if he disappears again.
If we can't kill the defense with flash, we've got to get them with numbers. Little's failing to register a single catch is like going to a water fight with a broken turkey baster. We're just making it way too easy.
Hangin' Tough: Et Tu, Defense?
The Browns' defense did a commendable job holding LeSean McCoy to a rare touchdown-less game. They also helped Michael Vick look pretty much awful. Even though Haden will be noticeably absent, the defense can contribute to a win by essentially doing what they've been doing.
That's all, folks. Fluidity, adaptation and leadership are the name of the eye-numbingly orange game. And now there's nothing left to do but watch, plastic Kosar in hand.