Mired in the cellar of the AFC North and looking up at NFL powerhouses like the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and (to a lesser degree) the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland is cooked like the fish in the Cuyahoga. Even worse, residence in that brutal division has taken its toll on the Browns record; they enter the contest at 3-6 and all but mathematically eliminated from the postseason race.
Although the reasons for their decline are somewhat different, the Jacksonville Jaguars find themselves in a similar plight.
And you know what that means.
Yep, they're playing for the P-word in the Forest City; only pride is on the line.
Granted, there's also an opportunity to pick up an elusive victory and, given the way each squad's season has unfolded, that should be enough to bring out the beast from both teams. So far, that's been the case on defense, but (surprise, surprise) the offenses have been slow to join the party.
Of course, that means the game is still hanging in the anemic balance, which must be welcome news in that Cleveland locker room when you consider how ugly the first 30 minutes have been.
With these five halftime adjustments, however, the second half will be a lot brighter for the Browns:
1. Take To the Air
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been stuffing the Browns run game without much trouble. That's because (A) the Jags defense is pretty good and (B) the Browns run game is pretty poor. Cleveland's passing game isn't much better, but might as well give it a go since it's the only alternative.
2. Trust in Colt McCoy
Sure, it's a similar point to No. 1, but it's the Cleveland Browns—cut me some slack.
Furthermore, Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy is relatively mobile, which means he can be incorporated into the futile running game via roll outs and maybe even a few QB draws. The point being that McCoy is probably the most (maybe only) dangerous offensive weapon the Browns have.
So use him whenever and however you can.
3. But Do It Conservatively
Don't get me wrong—I'm not advocating for the Browns to come out slinging the rock all over the field. They need to throw it more and let McCoy use his physical as well as mental faculties to make the best decision, but the defense is and will be the secret to success for Cleveland.
Let's be honest, if McCoy and company turn the ball over, their prospects for victory are similar to those of the proverbial snowball in hell.
4. Eliminate the Penalties
The Browns must play a flawless game most weekends to get a victory. They have a bit more margin for error considering how mediocre the Jags are, but that margin is still razor-thin.
The flags haven't been too abundant, but even a couple are too many for this team.
5. Halloween's Over, but Bring Back the Tricks
Yes, you can be conservative and open up the bag of tricks—it's not easy to do, but it's possible and that's what Cleveland should do.
Because this offense simply isn't moving by conventional means.
And even if the trickeration backfires, so what?
It's not like a playoff spot hangs in the balance.