With a loss to the Detroit Lions last week, the Cleveland Browns are now 0-9 for a second straight year. Although the team did show some improvement last week, they couldn’t finish as strong as they started. Now, they are staring down the barrel of the number one defense in the National Football League. In week 11, the Jacksonville “Sacksonville” Jaguars are coming to FirstEnergy Stadium. So, how can the Browns give themselves a shot in this game? These are our Week 11 Cleveland Browns keys to victory.
Shut Down the Run; Make Bortles Beat You
Leonard Fournette is one hell of a player. In all honesty, this writer had his doubts about him coming out of LSU last year. Fournette has proven all his doubters dead wrong, with his amazing performances this season. With 147 carries for over 600 yards, Fournette has been having an incredible rookie season. His usage rate is through the roof, and that has to stop this week.
Up until last week, the Browns had one of the best run defenses in the NFL. This week, they will have the lofty task of shutting down Fournette. A difficult task, yes, but perhaps not an impossible one. In week one, the Browns held Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell to under 100 yards. The Browns must close in on the backbone of Jacksonville’s offense, Fournette, and make the quarterback beat them. Speaking of which…
Expose The Quarterback
Blake Bortles has made some strides in his development this season. However, he still has made plenty of mistakes this season. With Allen Robinson out for the year, Bortles has had one less receiver to make plays for him. Now, he’s a bit “all on his own” in a way. Thankfully, the Jaguars have their amazing running game, and his name is Leonard Fournette. But if the Browns can shut down Fournette and expose Bortles to his inaccuracies, they should have a much easier time keeping Jacksonville’s offense to a minimum.
When facing a defense as truly amazing as the Jaguars, the Browns have to play that same defensive game. If they can shut down Fournette and force Bortles to throw, Myles Garrett might just have himself a field day. Maybe get some Emmanuel Ogbah in on that action, too. Who knows.
In any case, the Browns cannot afford to get behind early in this game. Preferably, they’ll need the same opening fire that they had in the game against Detroit. If you get behind against this defense, they will keep you there and not let go. It is absolutely imperative that the Browns keep the Jaguars yardage to an absolute minimum, both in the air and on the ground. Not only will this open the door for DeShone Kizer and Cleveland’s offense, but it could tire the Jaguar defense out even a little bit. And that, my friends, is a luxury that most teams have not gotten this season.
No. Stupid. Mistakes.
This Jaguars defense is going to force a turnover at some point in this game. Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, and (former Brown) Tashaun Gipson are all total ball hawks. Combine that with the Browns penchant for red-zone turnovers this season, and it could be a recipe for disaster. However, the Browns have to make sure that they aren’t making stupid mistakes against this defense.
First off, stupid mistakes will absolutely kill you against this defense. Calais Campbell is a monster. Truthfully, Jacksonville’s defensive line may actually rip Kizer’s head off if J.C. Tretter and Shon Coleman are both out, and no one else steps up to the challenge. The Browns must eliminate bone-headed mistakes here.
Mild aggression just might work against this defense. Being careless with the ball absolutely will not work, but neither will trying to be too conservative. At times, the Jaguars have seen their run defense get tired. Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson need to be ready here, and fumbling the ball is not an option against this team. The Browns offense has to find something that works early, or this one could be over before it even begins.
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