Bruce Gradkowski to Start for Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh

John StepnickCorrespondent IDecember 27, 2008

The Cleveland Browns, who have lost their first three quarterbacks to injury, have called upon fourth-stringer Bruce Gradkowski to start Sunday at the Pittsburgh Steelers. If the name sounds familiar, Gradkowski was a WPIAL record-setter while playing AA-ball at Seton La Salle.

This will be Gradkowski's second career start in Pittsburgh. His last start in the Steel City? A 2006 game where he was at the helm for the 3-8 Buccaneers team that came in to face a 4-7 Steelers squad.

We all know the 2006 Steelers defense wasn't exactly the best thing since sliced bread. They gave up 41 points to the Atlanta Falcons, and Drew Brees came within an eyelash of 400 passing yards. The Steelers-Bucs game saw a Steelers team coming off a 27-0 shellacking by Baltimore and Tampa coming off an equally embarrassing 38-10 loss to Dallas.

Enough dramatic buildup. Onto how Gradkowski managed the game. He was 20-for-34 for 175 yards, and (most importantly) took three interceptions and five sacks.

Like I said before, the 2006 Steelers defense was a shell of what we're seeing on the field right now, which means the Browns will likely give us a heavy dose of Jamal Lewis and the running game, taking the ball out of the quarterbacks hands, trying to shorten the game.

Not only does the current Browns team rank 31st in the league in Total Offense, but also 30th in the league in Passing Offense, and 31st in the league in touchdowns.

If the Browns offense has one ray of hope, it's that they are have allowed the seventh fewest sacks in the league, which means much of their playbook is focused on short, quick passes. However, Cleveland has the fifth most interceptions in the league, only two behind Houston and the Jets.

On the other side of the ball, the Steelers relatively stagnant offense against a Cleveland defense ranked 26th in total defense and 29th in rushing defense. If there was ever a game for Parker and Moore to breakout, it's tomorrow.