The Browns started their 2013 campaign with a disappointing loss against the "maybe-good" Miami Dolphins. You cannot read too much into the first week of the season, but some trends can emerge and that was no different from what I think we will see from the Browns this week. Most pundits think that the Browns defense will be much improved and I think they showed that in Week 1. They have some great young talent and for the most part, held the Dolphins offense at bay. For the Browns, the question marks come when you go over to the offensive side of the ball.
The one bright spot was certainly Jordan Cameron. The 25 year old from Southern Cal finished with 9 catches and 108 yards (1 TD). He cemented himself as Brandon Weeden’s best option and safety valve. Cameron did an outstanding job running routes and also coming back to the ball when Weeden had to scramble (which was often), which is something that some receivers and tight ends never learn. I think that Cameron is someone the Ravens need to look out for this week. They had a great deal of trouble with Julius Thomas last Thursday and need to make sure they mark Cameron. The one difference is the fact that Cameron is their number one threat, whereas, Julius Thomas wasn’t even the best pass catcher named Thomas on the Broncos.
Cameron was certainly a bright spot for the Browns on Sunday, but an area where they struggled was offensive line. Brandon Weeden was running for his life the entire day and Trent Richardson was unable to really get any clean running room. Joe Thomas is one of the best lineman in the league, but the Dolphins were able to key on the right side of the line. It is safe to say that Cameron Wake owned Mitchell Schwartz. Wake is one of the best edge rushers in the league and he showed a very serviceable right tackle, just that. The offense line could not allow Weeden to stay on his mark the entire day. He was out of the pocket within a few seconds and that is not his strength.
Weeden played a lot better, in my opinion, than most people think. He extended a few plays and hit his receivers down field, but he was not given much of a chance by his line. The Dolphins were able to get pressure from the edges and right up the middle, which is a quarterback’s nightmare. If I have one complaint against Weeden is that when he gets a chance in the pocket, he holds onto the ball for so long. He needs to make a decision and get rid of the ball. Two of his three intercepts were off his receivers hands, but could have had a few more due to some late throws over the middle.
One interesting thing that I would look for on Sunday against the Ravens is the wing back formation. Early in the game against the Dolphins, the Browns had Weeden flanked by a tight end and fullback with Richardson a few yards behind. This looked like a hybrid wing-T formation from the old college days. The Browns ran a few nice plays out of this formation, but went away from it. Look for Norv Turner to dial up a few more plays from this formation. I think this provides a dynamic element to the offense, while also giving Weeden a little more protection in the backfield.
From the Ravens standpoint, it all comes down to pressure. If the Ravens are able to get pressure from the edge and penetration up the middle, they will have no problem neutralizing this offense. Suggs and Dumervil should be licking their chops looking at the video of Cameron Wake wreaking havoc last Sunday. There are certainly some things to be excited about in Cleveland, but nothing is set in stone after Week 1.