Cleveland Browns scouting report
Washington Redskins (7-6) at Cleveland Browns (5-8)
December 16, 2012
Tribune Chronicle | TribToday.com
- WHERE: Cleveland Browns Stadium.
- SERIES: Browns lead, 33-10-1.
- BROWNS ON OFFENSE: Quarterback Brandon Weeden hasn't had the types of games that has characterized the rookie season of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. He usually makes a few bad throws here and there, but he continues to show positive signs. For the season he's completed 57 percent of his passes for 3,037 yards, 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Running back Trent Richardson needs to improve on his average of 3.5 yards per rush and help put the offense into better second-down situations. Montario Hardesty continues to supply a spark off the bench at running back. He needs more carries. Receiver Josh Gordon could be on his way to a 1,000-yard season (he's at 732 on 42 receptions). Receiver Greg Little continues to play well in all facets, including as a blocker. Tight end Benjamin Watson is having a solid season with 37 receptions.
- REDSKINS ON OFFENSE: Reports last night on "ESPN" indicated that Kirk Cousins will start at quarterback in place of Robert Griffin III, who sprained his right knee last Sunday. Cousins is more of a conventional dropback passer than Griffin, who has rushed for 749 yards. This will be the first start for the rookie Cousins. Browns coach Pat Shurmur said that preparations wouldn't change no matter which quarterback he thought might start. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan did a good sales job of letting on that Griffin would start, with the intention of going with Cousins. Another rookie, running back Alfred Morris, will become more important with Griffin out. Benefitting from Griffin's slick ballhandling, Morris has rushed for 1,228 yards and seven touchdowns on 253 carries. Joshua Morgan leads all receivers with 42 receptions for 429 yards. Pierre Garcon has 28 catches for 43 yards and four touchdowns. Santana Moss has seven touchdown receptions.
- BROWNS ON DEFENSE: The Browns gave up 180 rushing yards to the Chiefs last week, but the defense settled down after Jamaal Charles went 80 yards on the first play from scrimmage. This is becoming a physical unit, led up front by tackles Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin. Linebacker Craig Robertson, who wasn't drafted in 2011, has been a find. He might have had his best game of the season last week. Middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson leads in tackles with 96. The defense has 34 sacks, led by Juqua Parker with five.
- REDSKINS ON DEFENSE: The defense is ranked 28th in the league and 31st against the pass, allowing 289.3 yards a game through the air. The unit does have 15 interceptions, but it's been torched by big plays. Ageless middle linebacker London Fletcher leads in tackles with 150. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall has four interceptions. The defense is seventh in the NFL against the run (98.8 yards a game).
- BROWNS ON SPECIAL TEAMS: Kicker Phil Dawson has reached the 300 mark in his 14-year career and now stands at 302. For the season he's 26-of-27. Punter Reggie Hodges is struggling with a net 37.1-yard average. Return specialist Joshua Cribbs averages 12.8 yards on punt returns and 27.7 on kick returns. Rookie Travis Benjamin showed off his speed last week on a team-record 93-yard punt return for a touchdown.
- REDSKINS ON SPECIAL TEAMS: Kicker Kai Forbath is perfect on 14 field-goal attempts. Punter Sav Rocca has a 37.9 net average. Brandon Banks averages 6.8 yards on punt returns and 24 yards on kick returns.
- BROWNS MUST: Establish success on the ground, even if it means giving Hardesty a few more carries. Weeden will be tempted to test a weak secondary. Lots of luck trying to slow down Griffin. The key is to not let him get outside.
- REDSKINS MUST: Do what other defenses have done and stop Richardson on first downs and put the Browns into must-passing situations.
- PREDICTION: Browns, 27-20.