Buffalo Bills Must Take Advantage of Joe Haden's Absence
If somethings not broken, there's no point in trying to fix it.
C.J. Spiller leads the NFL with 292 yards after two weeks, with a remarkable 10.1 yards per carry average. The Cleveland Browns know that and they have been preparing to defend against Spiller all week. However, the suspension of cornerback Joe Haden creates a large advantage for Buffalo in the passing game that must be taken advantage of.
The Bills have had so much success running the ball that it should continue to be their main focus on offense. The passing game has looked atrocious so far and Ryan Fitzpatrick has yet to settle in. So while the rushing attack should be the main priority, the Bills could benefit from airing out the ball on Sunday.
Stevie Johnson is clearly the best receiver on the Bills roster. He also has the advantage over any defensive back that Cleveland will have on Sunday. He is a threat to take it to the house on any given play and has scored in both games this season.
If the Bills come out passing, the linebackers and safeties will be forced to drop back into coverage more than they like. With Haden not playing on Sunday, Johnson should have little trouble getting open and catching passes. This might lead to double coverage on Johnson or added attention to No. 13.
If Johnson does draw additional defensive attention, Donald Jones and Scott Chandler should have little trouble finding and exploiting the holes in the Browns' defense. If Fitzpatrick comes out passing, the matchups all favor the Buffalo offense.
Johnson will likely attract double coverage on the field if he makes a few plays early. Chandler and Jones would also have favorable matchups, making Fitzpatrick's job that much easier. But Spiller would benefit the most from the passing possibilities.
The more receivers on the field for Buffalo, the more the troubled defensive backs the Browns would be forced to use. Chandler would even attract a linebacker or a safety to defend him. This would open up big holes in the running game as the Browns have numbers away from the line of scrimmage.
If Spiller is averaging 10.1 yards per carry when defenses crowd the line of scrimmage, imagine what he could do with defenses forced back into pass coverage. If the Browns want to load up the box and give Spiller nowhere to run, Johnson will simply exploit any one-on-one that Cleveland can offer and make plays down the field.
The absence of Joe Haden will make the game that much harder for Cleveland. However, Fitzpatrick must start the game with success in the passing game to keep the Browns defense on their heels. If he can air it out early, the rest of the game will come easier to Buffalo. Since Fitzpatrick is a very streaky passer, confidence early in the game will benefit him later on. If he struggles early, Cleveland will put numbers at the line of scrimmage and Spiller will have nowhere to go.
Fitzpatrick has yet to look like the franchise quarterback that he is expected to be in 2012. Taking advantage of a weak secondary Sunday can give him confidence going forward and open the offensive possibilities for Buffalo.
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