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Last week against Seattle, special teams won it for the Browns, but they also nearly lost it for them. Amongst the two blocked field goals, the third nearly-blocked field goal, and the kick returned for a TD against them that was called back on bad call by the officials, the special teams unit looked like a total mess.
The timing is unfortunate, as former Browns special teams' coach Brad Seely is now an employee of this week's opponents—the 49ers.
The Browns would have liked to keep Seely—he left of his own accord—but it's especially important for them this week to prove that they can function without him when they face off against him.
Obviously, regardless of who the opposing coaching staff is, the Browns must stop making mistakes on special teams, or they're going to be in trouble. When your offense isn't scoring a lot of points, as is the case with the Browns, special teams' gaffes can be dealbreakers.
First and foremost, the blocking both on field goals and on punts and kick offs has to improve. A lot.
What we saw last week was horrendous and cannot happen again. If the Browns play well, this game could be a close one, and special teams, whether it's about winning by a field goal or preventing a loss on a kick returned for big yardage, could make or break that.
Second, the Browns have to be more productive on their own returns and give their offense better position consistently and improve their opportunities to score.
Coach Chris Tabor has a lot of talent on his special teams unit, but they haven't been effective this season at all. That must change this week, or it could cost them the chance at a win.