Please don't get me wrong. I'm in no way suggesting that the Browns could or should beat the Jaguars this Sunday. I'm merely taking a look at three ways that the Browns could make things interesting in this one.
So let's get to it!
1. THE UNDERNEATH PASSING GAME
The Browns have one of the best gadget players in the game today. Duke Johnson is listed as a RB for the Browns, but he's a player that can line up all over the field. Whether coming out of the backfield as a receiver or lining up wide the Browns like to get Duke Johnson involved. Most of his catches come at or behind the line of scrimmage. This year he's already hauled in 42 catches for 358 yards and a TD. A true speedster at 5'9'' and 210 lbs. Johnson is a threat. Last week the Jaguars struggled to contain a similar player in Austin Ekeler. The Chargers third string RB was able to bounce off tackles time and again against the Jaguars linebackers and defensive backs. He wound up catching the ball five times, racking up 77 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Jaguars tackling was a big issue in week 10.
Why it probably won't work: The Jaguars have been mostly excellent bringing down runners in the open field this year. With Marcell Dareus clogging up the middle linebackers Myles Jack, Telvin Smith, and Paul Posluszny will be free to make plays on the edge. Being burned by the short passing game last week the Jaguars will be sure to key on that aspect of the Browns offense this week.
2. THE BROWNS HAVE AN EXCELLENT RUN DEFENSE
On paper this makes a lot of sense. The Jaguars most effective offense is their running game. They lead the league in rushing. But they weren't their usual selves last week. Fournette looked like his ankle was still bothering him and the Jaguars offensive line was a mess due to injuries. The Browns defense is allowing just 3.1 yards per carry in 2017. It appears the Jaguars could struggle to consistently move the ball if their main plan of attack is to run the ball.
Why it probably won't work: The Browns do have an excellent run defense. Danny Shelton, Christian Kirksey, and Myles Garrett are all excellent run stoppers. The problem is they are abysmal against the pass. Blake Bortles could have a career day against the Browns. Their best linebacker Jamie Collins was just lost for the season and their safety play in coverage has been horrible. Their two outside CBs Jason McCourty and Briean Boddy-Calhoun are playing well in coverage, but they're the only ones. Even with out Allen Hurns the Jaguars should be able to pass the ball with ease in this one.
3. THE JAGUARS ARE DEALING WITH KEY INJURIES ON OFFENSE
The Jaguars are dealing with a ton of injuries on offense. Their best receiver Allen Robinson has been out since the first drive of the season. Allen Hurns won't be able to play in week 11 with an ankle injury. The team's best receiving tight end was expected to be Mychal Rivera - he never got to take the field in 2017 due to injuries. The Jaguars offensive line is banged up too. Jermey Parnell and Patrick Omameh were both held out of the Jaguars practice Wednesday and could be questionable for Sunday. The Browns could take advantage of a Jaguars offense that is far from full strength.
Why it probably won't happen: The Jaguars have been dealing with offensive injuries all year long. Yet the team keeps chugging along. They have the best rushing offense in football and even if Leonard Fournette isn't 100%, Chris Ivory and TJ Yeldon can pick up the slack. The Jaguars backup offensive lineman have performed admirably when called upon against much tougher fronts than the Browns possess. Even against a team like the Chargers, who were winners of three of their last four games, the Jaguars were able to overcome their offensive injuries.
It's a bit of a reach to think the Browns will test the Jaguars in a major way this week, but these are some things to keep an eye on as the two teams face off this Sunday.
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