CLEVELAND — It’s a tall order. Just days after a frustrating Sunday that produced a third loss in 3 games, the Browns have to travel to enemy territory and play a nationally televised contest against division foes, the Baltimore Ravens tonight.
The task would be tough enough, but with a very young Browns team, one could expect a long night under the lights. However, don’t tell that to Browns top draft pick, Trent Richardson.
“We have to get some movement up front. We have to stop them from penetrating and really just stick to the basics. We can’t do anything all fancy. We have to go downhill”.
Richardson was referring to the task of running against a very talented and tough Ravens defense, led by longtime stalwart Ray Lewis.
What Richardson and his young teammates will have to keep away from is regarding the meeting as a chance to get autographs. This is business, and not being ready to play could be a very humbling experience.
“It’s going to be an honor being on the same field as Ray Lewis. I’ve looked up to him for years and I still look up to him, especially his leadership and how he handles stuff. But, it’s going to be like another game. I’ve got to play it like it’s my last, go out there and give it all I can.”
Richardson and his fellow first round pick, QB Brandon Weeden have to rebound from Sunday performances against the Buffalo Bills that were not to write home about. Richardson found very little room to run, and Weeden threw a pair of interceptions in the fourth quarter as his team was trying to come back and win. Weeden knows that this is a division game and it is doubly important.
“When you’re trying to win division championships, you have to win division games. It’s a tough test. You basically have two and a half days to prepare and then we are playing a football game. It’s not a physically draining week, it’s all mental. We have to really understand what we’re doing offensively, without getting a rep over and over. You have to learn with basically one or no reps at all. You have to be on your “A” game and be ready to rock and roll.”
Weeden’s counterpart has had many “Rock and Roll” days against the Browns. Joe Flacco is 8-0 career-wise against Cleveland, piloting the Baltimore offense. This year the Ravens are employing a no huddle offense, and that will put added pressure on the Browns defense. Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron knows his young defense will be under pressure on Thursday night in trying to keep the no huddle offense in a “No endzone celebrating” mode.
“We definitely have to prepare for it and talk about it. We’ve tried to do that. We’ve been trying to do that, not just this week. As we got into it towards the end of preseason, we spent a lot more time moving fast in our periods, trying to get lined up and move fast, having the offense attack us. It never really simulates exactly what it’s like on gameday, but at least it helps us and makes them aware that they’ve got to be ready, said Jauron.
Add to the drama of the New Cleveland Browns facing the team, born out of the franchise move by the late Art Modell in 1995, is the national scandal that is the replacement referees. On Monday night, the Green Bay Packers had a victory stolen from them by a bad call by the sub officials. The national media will be very focused on the replacement officials and their calls. It could be a big distraction. The Browns will need every break they can get. They are 13 point underdogs.