Bills vs. Browns: Sketching out a Game Plan for Buffalo

Erik FrenzSenior Writer ISeptember 20, 2012

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 12:  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Buffalo Bills hands off to C.J. Spiller #21 against the Cleveland Browns at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 12, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo won 13-6.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills have been a Jekyll-and-Hyde team already, early on in the 2012 season.

The Cleveland Browns? It's been mainly Hyde.

They have plenty of weaknesses, but they are certainly not without their strengths. Running back Trent Richardson could come unleashed at the Dawg Pound, and their defense can generate a fair amount of pressure. If the Bills want to end their eight-game road losing streak and notch their third road win in 13 tries, they'll need to draw up a game plan.

Here are some thoughts on what the Bills could be cooking up for the Browns.


Get C.J. Spiller Going

Luckily for Buffalo, one of Cleveland's biggest weaknesses on defense plays into one of the Bills' biggest strengths: running the football. 

C.J. Spiller has been superlative in the past two games, racking up 292 yards on 22 attempts, currently leading the league in rushing yards and in yards per-attempt with 10.1.

The Eagles had some success running the ball outside the tackles against the Browns. According to Pro Football Focus, they gained 85 yards on 15 rushes when going outside the tackles.

This was the first play for the Eagles inside the two-minute warning before halftime, and what better way to get it started than with a big run by running back LeSean McCoy, a back with a similar skill set to Spiller?

The Eagles got him on an outside handoff, and he broke up the field, taking advantage of the wide-open space on the offense's right.

They got good downfield blocking from their wide receivers, and Cleveland's cornerbacks were playing well off in coverage because of the game-breaking speed of wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson.

The Bills don't have receivers on par with those two, but Stevie Johnson is a solid threat in the passing game and is an above-average run-blocking wide receiver. They also have rookie wide receiver T.J. Graham, who has some of the speed their offense has lacked.

The more they can open things up on the outside, the more damage they can potentially do with C.J. Spiller. He picked up 77 yards on six carries against the Jets on runs outside the tackles, according to Pro Football Focus, and had seven runs outside the tackles and took them for 69 yards against the Chiefs (per PFF).  

The Bills should be cognizant that the weakness was exposed in their defense back in Week 1, and that it plays into their strength with Spiller in the backfield.


Get Pressure With the Front Four

The Browns have only scored 43 points through two games (24th in the NFL), and seven of those points came off a pick-six by linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, but they are not without their strength on offense.

Yes, strength is singular. Their strength is Trent Richardson, who has been responsible for 189 of their 649 yards (29.1 percent of offensive production).

Because Richardson is such a capable runner, the Bills defensive line needs to do what it was brought in to do: create havoc up front with a four-man rush. 

We saw how Weeden responds (or doesn't respond, in this case) to pressure against the Eagles.

On this first play, the Eagles' back seven had tight coverage on most of the Browns receivers, but there was a shot for Weeden to complete the pass to wide receiver Mohammed Massoquoi (circled in the shot below).

The photo is blurry, but Weeden is getting ready to unload the pass when he is hit hard by Eagles defensive end Jason Babin.

This was more of a coverage sack, but the Eagles were able to get pressure rather quickly on Weeden at times.

Take, for example, this first-down pass play. Weeden drops back and has an outlet in Richardson open in the flat. He also has Massoquoi coming open on the out-route at the top of the screen.

Once again, the pressure gets there before he can see it developing, and he's brought down. This play was negated by a roughing-the-passer penalty on Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, but it is still good evidence that putting a solid rush on Weeden has caused him to miss open targets.

He's still getting caught up with the speed of the game, and the pressure the Eagles were able to get on him resulted in three interceptions. 

Getting that rush on Weeden will also prevent the Bills secondary from being exposed, as they were by the Jets and quarterback Mark Sanchez in Week 1—another contest that was on the road.

Defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson have been held without a sack in the first two games of the season, but that will most likely have to change if the Bills want to come out of Cleveland with a win.


Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.