Know Thy Enemy: Cleveland Browns

PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 02: Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers laughs on the sideline during the 4th quarter against the Carolina Panthers during the preseason game on September 2, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns improved upon their pathetic total of four wins in 2008 by winning a whopping five games last year.  Baby steps, I guess.  They did, however, win their last four games in a row highlighted by one of the most embarrassing losses in Pittsburgh Steelers history, a 13-6 debacle on a frigid Thursday night.  Following the season, the front office was cleared out with Mike Holmgren being brought in to resurrect yet another franchise.  Coo Coo g’ joo.

STEELERS DEFENSE vs. BROWNS OFFENSE

Poor poor Colt McCoy.  He was on the verge of being cut during the preseason, but due to high ankle sprains to both Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme, he’s starting this week.  I’m sure it’s his dream to start an NFL game but that should quickly turn into a nightmare by about, oh, half past one.   They say that which doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

The Steelers defense will put this theory to the test.

The Browns ranked last in the league in offense last year.  This year, they’ve risen all the way up to 25th.  About the only area of strength on this team is their offensive line.  C Alex Mack and LT Joe Thomas are Pro Bowl caliber.  Their studliness no doubt contributed to RB Peyton Hillis running wild on the Ravens defense a couple weeks back.  Unfortunately, he’s battling a strained quadriceps and is questionable.

Not that it matters since the Steelers aren’t giving up anything on the ground to anybody.  Running the ball isn’t going to work and considering they only have one halfway decent receiver, I don’t foresee passing being much of an option either.  Nope, if the Browns hope to score, their offensive game plan boils down to one thing:

Get the ball to Josh Cribbs.

For those who remember that Thursday night game, Cribbs was an absolute Steeler Killer.  He returns kicks, he runs the Wildcat, and he plays receiver.   He’s a multi-purpose threat that needs to be accounted for on every play.  He’s far and away the Browns best offensive weapon.  Contain him and everything else will fall into place.

STEELERS OFFENSE vs. BROWNS DEFENSE

The Browns ranked 31st in defense last year, 28th against the run and 29th against the pass.  So they gave defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, Rex’s brother, some new toys by going secondary with their first two picks in the draft.  This has led to an improvement as they now rank 18th in pass defense, although they’re still 21st in total D.  Again, baby steps.

But let’s forget about the Browns as they’re nothing more than a bug on the Black and Gold’s windshield.  I’m more interested in talking about the Steelers offense.   The Steelers are averaging 136 pass yards per game and are currently last in the NFL in total offense.   All that is about to change.

Ben Roethlisberger returns from his ridiculous unwarranted suspension.   Last year, the Steelers produced an epic offensive performance.  They featured a 1,000 yard rusher, two 1,000 yard receivers, and a 4,000 yard passer in the same season for the first time ever.   Even with the loss of Santonio Holmes, I have seen nothing to make me think this group is any less explosive.   We just need a quarterback able to make the plays.

I’ve been a vocal supporter of Steeler Football.  And I still believe Bruce Arians got carried away with the Flying Circus last year.  But I also realize the NFL isn’t the same as it was in 1985.  It used to be that you ran the ball to set up the pass.   Nowadays, the opposite usually holds true.

Rashard Mendenhall is off to a fine season.  He’d be off to an even finer season if opposing defenses weren’t able to stack the box against him.   Teams have had little to no reason to fear being burned through the air.  With Big Ben under center, they should be terrified.

My problem with Arians and last year’s offense was his tendency to get greedy.  Big plays and explosive scoring are great.   But it seemed like for every bomb Ben hit, Arians would dial up six more which failed.  An all-or-nothing mentality doesn’t control the clock and doesn’t give the defense any time to rest.  The pass/run ratio was ideal these first four games.  Our quarterbacks simply didn’t have the fantastic playmaking ability Ben has.

Will we see the return of Ben chucking 35+ passes per game?   Or will we see a balanced attack which strikes down-field but also controls time of possession with a commitment to the run?

I don’t know but the answer will go a long way to determining how the rest of the season shakes out.  What I do know is we have a great defense.  If we can add a great offense, this team will be near impossible to beat.   And with a fresh, focused, and HIGHLY MOTIVATED Ben Roethlisberger at the controls, I like our chances.  I like them a lot.

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  • Steel-Her_Pride

    “With Big Ben under center, they should be terrified”…Well at least thier daughters should be.

    • http://nicepickcowher.com chris

      If they raised their daughters right, to have morals and not be drunken skanks, they have no reason to worry.

      Oh, wait, are we talking about Cleveland girls? Yeah, then they should be worried. They’ve got a bunch of hos living there.

      • Steel-Her_Pride

        Ho’s are fine, rapists well thats another group all together. Im just saying, how convenient it is that day 2 of his, ben’s, investigation and security cameras footage is erased..well I geuss its true anybody with money can get away with anything, Stallworth killed a man, Jamal lewis dealing coke, and rothelisberger raping anything with a pulse.

        • Mike

          You should honestly read the police reports and law analysis. There was no evidence of rape. If one is raped, there is always evidence. 2nd – The video evidence wasn’t erased, it was recorded over…. because it is a one monitor system with a vhs recorder, that automatically stops, rewinds and records over each night. This is not some conspiracy. Please, do some research first. 3rd – being accused of something is not evidence. Ask Mark Chmura of the Packers. There isn’t one solid accusation or testimony that is possible to use to support the accusations against Ben. He was in a bar and was hitting on girls. The worst he possibly did was help contribute alcohol to minors by buying shots and leaving them on a table for anyone to drink. Know what your talking about for once, Brown’s fan.

        • http://nicepickcowher.com chris

          Good argument. Except Stallworth was ARRESTED AND TRIED. Jamal Lewis was ARRESTED AND TRIED.

          Ben WAS NEVER ARRESTED OR CHARGED.

          Nice of you to convict him, anyway, though. Not that I expect an intelligent argument from a Browns fan, Chief Wahoo.

          • SteelCurtainKing

            I’m no “clowns” fan like the above poster, but let’s not act like Ben is a boy scout. Just because he wasn’t convicted does not mean he didn’t sexually assault someone. It’s unfortunate that this will be forgotten after he takes us back to the Superbowl, but I guess that is the nature of the beast.

          • Joe

            Hey hey no one’s out there accusing Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or anyone else of Raping them, yet Ben has been accused of rape multiple times. Is it a conspiracy? Are the Steelers so awesome that girls from other cities (Not cleveland, I know, I know who wants to rape a girl from Cleveland) are falsely accusing him? Or is Ben a rapist? Which scenario is more likely? Hmmm…

  • Haywood Jablowme

    Ben Roethlisberger returns from his ridiculous unwarranted suspension.

    Really…Ridiculous? Unwarranted? Rapistberger got what he deserved.

    • http://nicepickcowher.com chris

      What the hell?!?! Was my site invaded by a bunch of mouthbreathers from Cleveland or what?

      It’s too bad your team sucks so much that there’s nobody on it important enough for some drunk skank to falsely accuse of rape.

      For the last time, morons, NO CHARGES, NO ARREST, NO EVIDENCE = NO CRIME. And NO CRIME = NO SUSPENSION. What part of that is difficult to understand?

      From this point on, I’m deleting anything having to do with the phony accusations against Ben AND banning the poster. ENOUGH.

  • DaveSteelerCanada

    These stain fans are brutal. Get the hell out of here. Refer to previous post. This guy made mistakes, the girls didn’t help the matter, no charges, end of discussion. This guy is coming back extremely motivated and just moving in to his prime…7 years at least of razer sharp q-back play. If the Stillers keep weapons and Lebeau’s defense in place, this team is scary good!

  • Mark

    Its crazy to me that everyone forgets about Ray Ray. I mean come on. Ray Lewis was charged with murder, wasnt found not guilty but he had a plea bargain. If that doesnt scream I am guilty but let me off the hook easy what does? I dont believe he was suspended and now is considered one of the best of all time at his position. He performance is obviously supporting of that, but my point is NO ONE talks about his trial and situation in that case. I agree Bens suspension was a joke. I truly feel Goodel wanted to make a statement and unfortunately it was Ben who took it on the chin.

    And if Farve doesnt get suspended for sexual harrasment to a co-worker, Goodel just looks a bit biased. If the pics and vmails are confirmed his by the nfl investigation, it doesnt matter if she doesnt file charges. Sexual harrasment to an employee is punishable by the employer aka Roger Goodel and the NFL. If he does nothing he is a hypocrite!

    Chris as always, great reading!

    • http://nicepickcowher.com chris

      Ray Lewis wasn’t suspended because his situation happened BEFORE Roger Goodell was Commissioner. Paul Tagliabue was smart enough to realize you only suspend people when they’re actually CONVICTED of something, otherwise you end up with a mess figuring out who deserves suspending and who doesn’t.

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The NFL’s current suspension policy is a joke.

      Thanks for the compliments, Mark. I was hoping this thread would be a bunch of Steeler fans discussing how badly we’re going to smack around Colt McCoy. But I see now that for the near future, myself and Steeler Nation are going to have to be prepared for the idiot fans of the other team to beat the “Ben Is A Rapist” drum instead of talking about the game.

  • Mark

    Chris you are right about that. As far as Colt though, I dont think we see him constantly under center. I have a feeling they will utilize a lot of cribbs in the wildcat for this game. I am glad we took time with El running it in practice today so maybe it wont take us off gaurd. I feel good about this game even though Cleveland had been in all of their games. I think we take an early lead and grind it out in the second half with a 10-14 point victory.

    I knew you wanted some actual game conversation here! :-)

    • http://nicepickcowher.com chris

      Wow. Football talk in a game thread. What an interesting concept! :)

      Good point about Cribbs and the Wildcat but the Browns have been doing that for two years. I would hope that Tomlin prepared the team for it last season, yet he still tortured the Steelers. Of course, this defense is a lot better than last year’s.

      Honestly, I was worried about this game a week or two ago because, as you said, Cleveland hasn’t been a pushover this year. If Wallace was starting, I’d still feel that way but a third string rookie making his first career start? If this isn’t a tune-up game, nothing is.

  • Steel-Her Pride

    I like how you deleted my post Judas…wow you guys did soooo good…lmao…you beat a 1-4 team with refs/nfl in your pocket..whats better than a rapist to hero story…i mean we wont talk about dirty play or uncalled headhunting….cuz im not worried, the browns play the steelers one more time and last year..hmm i believe we ruined ur playoff chances…so delted this message your flip floppin idiot..you cant call for someones head one weak then back him wholeheartedly the next..lol…thats why i always say Pittsburgh fans are the epitome of FAIRWEATHER

    • Mark

      Why dont all you Brown fans just say you got outplayed by a superior team. Refs make screw ups every week. Heck the first down call even after the measurement was given to you low life Browns was ridiculous. If you were watching the same game as I was that wasnt a first down. I know living in Ohio there is nothing for you Cleveland fans have to be happy for. Your King left the state, your Indians choked and the Browns.. well do I need to say more? Even the blue Jackets if you are reaching for a pro team havent looked good. All you have is OSU and they choked last night as usual. Its all you got is a college football team to back for a state that has two pro baseball and 2 pro football teams as well as a pro hockey team. When was the last time any of the 5 have won anything special? I see why after a loss you guys have to troll on the competitors of the week websites to make yourselves feel special. Its ok Cleveland fans, at least you have the farm team for the Indians in columbus. The Clippers are the only team that knows what its like to win something.

      If you Brownies dont have something inteligent to say, then keep your mouth shut because you just make your town look worse then the rust belt town it already is. At least Pittsburgh has been on the rise from its Steel mill days. We are willing to talk Xs and Os anyday here, but all you do is wine. Did Steeler fans end up all ober your boards last year after you beat us in Cleveland??? No, should we have won you bet, but we made enough mistakes and the Browns made enough plays to win a tight game.

      Ps.. Ben hasnt raped anyone. He was accused in a cival suit two years ago thats not going anywhere. Ga was a sexual assualt, nope rape allegation which the DA stated had no effidence, though Ben was being stupid. Last I checked Donte Stallworth was a Brown when he KILLED someone while being stupid. Your acting like a pot calling the kettle black you morons. Now speak intelligently or just complain as you Brown fans do so well on your own boards.

  • steel-her pride

    I would easily say if the browns got outplayed by a superior team…against the ravens, the browns got outplayed against a superior team..against the steelers..nahh…and fyi stallworth never played another games for the browns after..soo..hmm..also oj simpson also was aquitted, so i guess he didnt murder any either huh?…unfortunately in pittsburh winning football games trumps all else..even biblical truths i guess…but i never really expect much from a Steelers fan…i been to pittsburgh, and ….was reaaly impressed…they have a wonderful zoo

  • steel-her pride

    ” We are willing to talk Xs and Os anyday here, but all you do is wine. Did Steeler fans end up all ober your boards last year after you beat us in Cleveland??? No, should we have won you bet, but we made enough mistakes and the Browns made enough plays to win a tight game.”..you “geniuses” really have X’s and O’s on the mind?..Not “wine”…lol..aww poor guy cant take honest criticism..well step in the next room of your moms house and suckle…you gave up 280 yards passing to a rookie QB, qho was qithout his 2 tops recievers…(all by quality plays in your book)..so what a big bad D you have..so you can lie in bed tonight, telling yourself how far pittsburgh has come…from heros and greats…to rapists and cheapshoters.

    • Mark

      Wow to pull out the moms house comments you must live at home. People who dont live with their parents, dont even think of the comment. I am sure my net worth is many times yours and havent lived with my parents since I was 18. Your QB got all his yards in 4th qtr mop up time including his TD. We didnt even throw many blitzes at him or do much to confuse him. We had a handle on the game without that and will only use them in need. Your top two WRs would struggle to start at WR on most teams. Back to my point that you were out played. 60 some yards rushing between three RBs and your great wildcat offense?! Questioning our defense after that? Everyone in Cleveland thought Hillis was your savior. One of 4 great RBs to suck it up againts the Steelers. Your great defense that hasnt given up a rushing TD, Gave one up today when they knew we were going to run closing this game out. Besides your team gave up 4 total TDs in this game today… Is that the best you got to say and think that the Browns are even in the same category as the Steelers? Or to think this game was even really close at any point in time?

      When Jim Brown shuns your organization and thats the one great thing that has ever happened to your team, thats embarrassing. Now who is really whining today?…really…