Cleveland Browns: Can Peyton Hillis Rumble All Over The Cincinnati Bengals Next?
The Cleveland Browns have their second divisional game in as many weeks as they take on the Cincinnati Bengals. The question on everyone's mind is if Peyton Hillis can rumble through line for another 100 yards.
But that's just one of the questions the Browns must answer if they're going to win on Sunday. An 0-3 team is an 0-3 team, no matter how close the games are.
The Bengals have their own issues as they try and repeat their success of 2009.
Here are some talking points for the Browns game as we head into the weekend.
The Bengals Offense
The Bengals have two of the loudest wide receivers in the league, but both of them have been curiously quiet through three weeks.
The Browns ability to keep them quiet will be a major storyline in the game. The Browns secondary got lit up last week by the Ravens, thanks mainly to Eric Wright having the worst game of his career. You can bet Carson Palmer will be focusing in on whichever receiver Wright his assigned to on Sunday.
Eric Wright Needs To Forget Last Week
Eric Wright didn't look like he belonged on the field last week, that's just being honest.
Like a pitcher who has a bad inning, though, Wright has to have a real short-term memory and move on, otherwise he's going to be toast again.
If you're a Browns fan and you haven't read this piece by Chris Hutchison, do yourself a favor and read it: http://theclevelandfan.com/cleveland-browns/1-browns-archive/6924-the-browns-outsider-week-three
His points about Wright couldn't be more true.
Carson Palmer Isn't As Tough As He Used To Be
Carson Palmer still is a good quarterback, but between his torn ACL and partially torn ligament in his elbow, injuries have taken their toll on the former first-round pick out of USC.
Palmer's incredible ability to zip the ball downfield hasn't been the same since he injured the elbow in 2008, and he's not as mobile as he was prior to the knee injury.
The Browns have to blitz smart this week, but they still must blitz. Palmer can be gotten to, and last week proved he'll throw an interception or two.
Can Peyton Hillis Do It Again?
Peyton Hillis had a career game against a tough Baltimore Ravens defense, and the Cincinnati defense isn't as good as Baltimore's.
Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis will be preparing for him, but the Bengals still have to stop a guy who has the incredible gift of just pounding through defenders.
It the offensive line can open holes for Hillis, it should be another good game.
The Browns Need Better Pass Protection
As good as the offensive line was at opening holes for Hillis, the pass protection left a lot to be desired, although the absence of John St. Clair did improve things.
It's a testament to Seneca Wallace's mobility that he wasn't sacked five times because the man can move.
But one reason the passing game was so anemic last week was because Wallace spent most of the passing plays running for the sideline as protection broke down.
The good news is both Tony Pashos and Shaun Lauvao should be in the game this week, giving the right side of the line the personnel it was supposed to have in Week 1.
The Browns Have To Have A More Balanced Offense
The Browns can sit there and say they're going to run the ball all day and that's fine, but you have to have an effective passing game for the run to work, and vice versa.
If you have a one dimensional offense, it doesn't matter how good the components of that dimension are, eventually they'll get shut down.
If the Browns go into the Bengals game with the idea they're going to hand the ball off to Hillis 30 times and mix in a few passes every now and then, you might as well chalk another game up in the loss column.
If the Browns don't give the Bengals defense a reason to respect the passing game, they won't worry about it and just concentrate on stuffing Hillis at the line, daring the Browns to throw downfield.
Rob Ryan Needs To Be Smarter About His Blitzing
Marcus Benard has proven to be the Browns only reliable pass rusher in 2010. Without him on the field last week, there was no pressure on Flacco.
Benard is slated to return this week, but Shaun Rogers still is a big question.
Rob Ryan blitzed the quarterback at the expense of the secondary and got burned for it last week, but with Benard back, that shouldn't be the issue it was versus the Ravens, plus Palmer isn't as mobile as Flacco is.
Coaches Need To Make Adjustments
One big storyline of 2010 is the Browns inability to make adjustments in the second half, mainly on offense.
Last week the defense didn't adjust and Wright continued to be outplayed by Anquan Boldin long after Wright should've been re-assigned.
Head Coach Eric Mangini needs to be cognizant of what's going on and stay on top of his coordinators. If Wright is getting torched again early, they have to respond.
If Hillis is getting stuffed at the line early and often, there better be a Plan B. If the Browns offense just shuts down again because things aren't working, it's going to be another very long afternoon.
The Players Have To Believe
If the Browns get in a tight situation again, they have to believe they can win, or it'll be another loss.
The team cannot let themselves get drug down into the morass of "Here we go again!"
That kind of thinking will lead to self-defeat.
Get Joshua Cribbs The Ball
I can't say this enough: When Joshua Cribbs gets the ball, good things tend to happen.
Here endeth the lesson.