"Breaking Browns" Pre-game Thread

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"Breaking Browns" Pre-game Thread

Post by VikingLord » Tue Sep 28, 2021 4:30 pm

Might as well get the pre-game thread started a little earlier this week and start breaking down the upcoming contest between the Browns and the Vikings.

First things first, situationally both teams are coming off fairly convincing wins. The Browns just beat up on an offensively hapless Bears team with a rookie at QB, while the Vikings steadied themselves after halftime and cruised to a comfortable win over a team that had become a notorious nemesis. Both teams are feeling good and have some confidence although the Browns come in with the better record. The game is at home for the Vikings, which gives them a very slight edge. The last aspect of this game that is relevant is the coaches of the two teams, with former Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski leading the Browns against Mike Zimmer's Vikings. Familiarity breeds contempt, and I could see that showing up in multiple ways in the upcoming game as both coaches might be tempted to make assumptions about what the other will do that could prove to be either very helpful or hurtful to their respective causes.

The 2021 Cleveland Browns offense resembles what the average Vikings fan saw of the Vikings offense under Stefanski. It's not flashy. It's not predicated on big passing plays or a QB running around and making spectacular throws. It is based on effective, consistent running coupled with effective, consistent passing, with a high number of passes going to the tight ends and running backs. To give an idea of what that means in practical terms, the Browns are 2nd in the NFL in rushing heading into the game at a whopping 174.7 yards per game on a 5.1 yards per carry average. Contrast that to the Vikings 128.0 on a 4.6 yards per carry average, and you get an idea of how much more effective the Browns have been running the ball than the Vikings. The Browns score a lot on the ground as well, notching 8 team rushing TDs against 2 passing TDs (as compared to the Vikings 1 rushing TD against 8 passing TDs). So the Browns run well and run a lot and they're going to keep doing that against the Vikings and everyone else until someone stops it, which I'm not sure the Vikings are equipped to do.

While the Browns haven't been an explosive passing team, that doesn't mean they're not an efficient passing team. Baker Mayfield is connecting on 73.8% of his attempts with a solid 9.8 yards per attempt. As stated before, his top three receiving targets have been his RB and two TEs, so he's not going deep very often, but he's efficient and effective and complements the run game very well. This is Kevin Stefanski's wet dream offense in terms of personnel and approach, and its coming to Minnesota next.

So how do the Vikings fare this Sunday against the Browns offense? Well, I'm worried about their ability to stop the run. In my view the defense has not done a great job of that thus far against any opponent, although they do manage to do it in streaks. For this upcoming game a good litmus test is going to be how often the Vikings can get the Browns into 3rd-and-6 or more, because that will be an uncomfortable position for them. They are a team that really needs to be in 3rd-and-5-or-less to maintain drives and eat up clock. The defense can't go to sleep on Mayfield deep, but if there is a game where it might not matter as much if the Vikings were to cheat their DBs forward a bit and possibly lose deep contain once or twice without paying dearly for it, the Browns are the NFL team that would be least likely to make them pay for that. One thing that might be helpful to slow the Browns down a bit on offense would be pre-snap line shifts along with showing a lot of potential blitzers who then fall back seemingly randomly after the snap. Give the Browns a lot to think about when run blocking, and work with the crowd noise to make Mayfield's job of pre-snap adjustments more difficult. Lastly, do not lose contain on the edges. Allowing cutback lanes against the Browns will be a killer. Positional discipline across the defensive front is a must on every play.

When the Vikings are on offense they'll be attacking a defense that is likewise predicated on stopping the run. The Browns rank 5th in the NFL against the run, allowing a measly 67.0 yards per game against. Now granted, they haven't played teams that have great running attacks thus far (away at KC and home versus the Texans and Bears), so that probably makes them look a little better than they may be objectively, but they're definitely going to try to keep that going against the Vikings running game whether Cook is in or not. The Browns have also stopped the pass as well so far, also ranking 5th overall at 181.7 yards per game against. They aren't a big pressure team (Myles Garrett has gotten home for 5.5 sacks, but beyond that their next best rusher clocks in at 2 sacks so far), but they will generate heat if they can force the opposing offense into poor down-distance situations. Against the best passing attack they faced in the Chiefs, they did reasonably well, holding them to 324 yards passing on 8.5 yards per pass. They completely destroyed the Bears offense, which they should have done but still, its far easier to say it than to do it and they actually did it. So the Browns are for real on both sides of the ball. What I'll be looking for from the Vikings offense is can they surprise the Browns defense, perhaps springing some big plays on them? Can they keep them off balance for extended stretches and use that to frustrate them and then hit them for more big plays? Cousins play is going to be critical in this effort. If he continues to play at a high level and with confidence the Vikings should be able to keep drives alive, move the ball and score. They will likely struggle to run, at least early on, but since I don't expect the Browns to be able to run up a sizeable early lead the Vikings should be able to stick with the run and that should pay off eventually.

This game might come down to coaching more than any other game thus far. Both Zimmer and Stefanski know each other well. Both have a defined style and mindset and both have teams that are built around that mindset and whose play reflects that style. So this is the ideal game for Zimmer to use that and throw in some wrinkles that Stefanski should not expect. Wrinkles like an opening drive that attempts a deep throw within the first two plays and maybe doesn't run once to start despite lining up in run-heavy formations. Get Stefanski and his team out of their comfort zone early ala what the Seahawks did against the Vikings and try to get some quick scores on the board. The Browns are a team that isn't built to play from behind, so that will tilt the balance in favor of the Vikings defense as well as Mayfield and the Browns are forced to press more than usual. That could lead to some turnovers and frustration on their part as well.

I don't see this game being a comfortable win for either team. It is likely to be close unless one side scores some haymakers and the other side has to do things it can't do well to equalize. Turnovers, penalties, and special teams will be crucial, and we could well see two offenses that largely plod up and down the field trading points most of the game as both teams will likely be able to score more often than not.

In the end I'm going to go with the Vikings because they are at home:

Vikings - 24
Browns - 21
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Re: "Breaking Browns" Pre-game Thread

Post by Maelstrom88 » Tue Sep 28, 2021 5:36 pm

The defense will have to play its best game yet and they will have to be balanced and block well on offense. Cleveland has a pretty solid defensive line. If they can do those things I think they'll win.
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Re: "Breaking Browns" Pre-game Thread

Post by psjordan » Wed Sep 29, 2021 7:47 am

VikingLord wrote:
Tue Sep 28, 2021 4:30 pm
Vikings - 24
Browns - 21
I'll be shocked! (since it worked last week I thought I'd try it again).

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and I have nothing to back this up.

I don't know why Zim/staff got aggressive against SEA (end of first half drive, etc.). Maybe it was a fluke. Maybe they figured they needed to outscore Wilson in a shootout. Maybe their go-in position was without Dalvin we need to be aggressive. Doesn't matter. They did it, Mattison looked good, Kirk looked great and it resulted in a win.

After they watch film, I'd be surprised (shocked!) if the coaches don't all look at each other, and at the same time say "holy cow, the best way to improve our D against the rush is to not only be ahead, but show the other team we are not backing down on our aggressive offense". My feeling is this is why SEA sort of became one dimensional in the 2nd half. After that last 1st half drive, THEY must've felt they are going to have to win a shootout in the 2nd half.

Maybe, just maybe - with the threat of a hot seat being prepared for him - Zim has acquiesced and will let the offense go wild and free, with no dictates on what plays get run when, nor how aggressive the play-calling is.

At least I am hoping some version of that is the case. Of course, let's say getting up by 10 against CLE changes everyone's gameplan - well, getting there won't be easy. Can we contain OBJ in a shootout? Will Mayfield be the "accurate" version of himself or not? Can we get enough pressure to make sure he's not?

Overall I think the Vikes will need to play one of? their best? game of the season to win this one. And I mean in retrospect after the season ends, not "best game of season so far".
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Re: "Breaking Browns" Pre-game Thread

Post by J. Kapp 11 » Wed Sep 29, 2021 7:54 am

The Browns are talented, but I wonder if they’ve been a bit of an illusion thus far.

I’m reading articles touting their run defense giving up only 67 ypg. But who have they played? Kansas City, which doesn’t usually bother with running the ball; Houston, quite possibly the worst team in the league; and the Bears, quite possibly the worst offense in the league.

Now the Browns have to come to US Bank Stadium to face Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison or both. They’re facing a red-hot Kirk Cousins and two of the best receivers in the league. They’re going to have their hands full. I honestly believe this game will come down to the Vikings’ run defense, not the Browns’. If we can hold them to less than 110 yards, it bodes well for us. I don’t think Baker Mayfield can elevate them.

As usual, I’ll refrain from predictions. But I like our chances to emerge from this contest at 2-2.
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Re: "Breaking Browns" Pre-game Thread

Post by VikingLord » Wed Sep 29, 2021 10:56 am

psjordan wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 7:47 am
VikingLord wrote:
Tue Sep 28, 2021 4:30 pm
Vikings - 24
Browns - 21
I'll be shocked! (since it worked last week I thought I'd try it again).
:rofl:
psjordan wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 7:47 am
Maybe, just maybe - with the threat of a hot seat being prepared for him - Zim has acquiesced and will let the offense go wild and free, with no dictates on what plays get run when, nor how aggressive the play-calling is.
I think Zimmer is letting Kubiak run the offense until further notice, which basically means as long as the offense is producing as it has, he's going to stay hands-off.

But I also think Cousins himself is part of that "go wild" approach. When the QB is playing with confidence and the players around him show a pep in their step, I think an OC would be foolish not to ride that wave all the way in to shore.

The Browns are as good a defense as the Vikings will likely face all year, so this is a great chance for the offense to find out what it is made of. If the Vikings can move the ball on the Browns consistently, that bodes really well for their chances this season.
psjordan wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 7:47 am
Overall I think the Vikes will need to play one of? their best? game of the season to win this one. And I mean in retrospect after the season ends, not "best game of season so far".
Totally agree. The Browns are going to be not just a playoff team this year, but likely competitive for a deep run in the AFC. So the Vikings are going to have to match that level of play. I think they can. The main thing I'm worried about is the Vikings run defense. That unit in particular has to step it up in this game and show they can hang with the big boys.
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Re: "Breaking Browns" Pre-game Thread

Post by VikingLord » Wed Sep 29, 2021 11:08 am

J. Kapp 11 wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 7:54 am
The Browns are talented, but I wonder if they’ve been a bit of an illusion thus far.

I’m reading articles touting their run defense giving up only 67 ypg. But who have they played? Kansas City, which doesn’t usually bother with running the ball; Houston, quite possibly the worst team in the league; and the Bears, quite possibly the worst offense in the league.
Good point. Their game against the Bears in particular was crazy (they allowed a *total* of 47 yards, 46 of which were on the ground). That vaulted them up a bit in the rankings and probably doesn't reflect where they really are as an overall defense.
J. Kapp 11 wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 7:54 am
I honestly believe this game will come down to the Vikings’ run defense, not the Browns’. If we can hold them to less than 110 yards, it bodes well for us. I don’t think Baker Mayfield can elevate them.
I totally agree with that assessment. The Vikings run defense has been spotty, and that's being generous. Given the veteran players they have on the defensive line and the talent they have, they should be better against the run than they've shown so far. I'm giving them a break to some extent because key players like Hunter and Pierce didn't play for a full year and probably need some time to round into form, while even a guy like Griffin needs some time to get back in the flow. There are signs they're able to do it, which is good. Last year's defense didn't have any stretches where they stopped anything consistently, but at least in the 2nd half against Seattle the run defense pretty much shut things down when they had to.

Still, the Browns are bringing the big guns to this fight. The Vikings front four has to be incredibly disciplined and fundamentally sound, while the LBs have to not guess, fight through whatever trash is in their way, and tackle on first contact. Defensive backs will have to step up as well.

Key stat from this game will be how often the Vikings can get the Browns into 3rd-and-6 or longer. If they do that consistently, the Vikings should win, perhaps even comfortably, because I think Cousins and the Vikings offense are too multi-dimensional for the Browns to consistently keep them out of the endzone.
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Re: "Breaking Browns" Pre-game Thread

Post by Pondering Her Percy » Wed Sep 29, 2021 12:26 pm

Miles Garrett really worries me this game. This offensive line has been much improved over the last few weeks and Oli Udoh is really making a name for himself. Rashod Hill on the other hand, makes me nervous week after week. Somehow Hill handled Chandler Jones after Jones dominated Lewan the week before. But I'm just waiting for Garrett to blow him up. I really hope we go with the same approach and find ways to chip him and fizzle him out of the game.

The Browns offense doesnt overly worry me. We have to find ways to generate pressures against this stout OL but overall, I was more worried about Seattles offense than Clevelands.

If we can handle Garrett and not let him take over the game and cause turnovers, I think we win this game.
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Re: "Breaking Browns" Pre-game Thread

Post by J. Kapp 11 » Wed Sep 29, 2021 9:43 pm

Pondering Her Percy wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 12:26 pm
Miles Garrett really worries me this game. This offensive line has been much improved over the last few weeks and Oli Udoh is really making a name for himself. Rashod Hill on the other hand, makes me nervous week after week. Somehow Hill handled Chandler Jones after Jones dominated Lewan the week before. But I'm just waiting for Garrett to blow him up. I really hope we go with the same approach and find ways to chip him and fizzle him out of the game.

The Browns offense doesnt overly worry me. We have to find ways to generate pressures against this stout OL but overall, I was more worried about Seattles offense than Clevelands.

If we can handle Garrett and not let him take over the game and cause turnovers, I think we win this game.
Wonder if the Vikings will activate Darrisaw this week. He was a full participant in practice today, and since Hill got a veteran’s day off, Darrisaw took all the first-team reps.

It’s hard to remember sometimes that we drafted this guy and had high hopes for him.
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Re: "Breaking Browns" Pre-game Thread

Post by Pondering Her Percy » Wed Sep 29, 2021 10:00 pm

J. Kapp 11 wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 9:43 pm
Pondering Her Percy wrote:
Wed Sep 29, 2021 12:26 pm
Miles Garrett really worries me this game. This offensive line has been much improved over the last few weeks and Oli Udoh is really making a name for himself. Rashod Hill on the other hand, makes me nervous week after week. Somehow Hill handled Chandler Jones after Jones dominated Lewan the week before. But I'm just waiting for Garrett to blow him up. I really hope we go with the same approach and find ways to chip him and fizzle him out of the game.

The Browns offense doesnt overly worry me. We have to find ways to generate pressures against this stout OL but overall, I was more worried about Seattles offense than Clevelands.

If we can handle Garrett and not let him take over the game and cause turnovers, I think we win this game.
Wonder if the Vikings will activate Darrisaw this week. He was a full participant in practice today, and since Hill got a veteran’s day off, Darrisaw took all the first-team reps.

It’s hard to remember sometimes that we drafted this guy and had high hopes for him.
Ya know, I noticed that today and mentioned the same thing to my buddy. I find it odd that all of the sudden darrisaw is healthy and Hill gets a days rest. Like I get resting guys like Harrison, Pat Pete, Thielen, etc. But Hill? I feel like that was pushed so they could see Darrisaw with the first team and try not to ruffle any feathers. Ya know?

Like Brian O’Neill deserves veteran rest over Hill. I just thought it was odd that the day Darrisaw is back, Hill is on rest. And it’s classic zimmer to never flat out bench a guy. Especially on offense. Remember the only reason O’Neill ever played to begin with was because Hill got hurt. And Cleveland only started playing because Samia had a “wrist injury”. Same will go for Wyatt Davis, although our guards are playing good right now, especially Udoh.

But it’s just another thing that bothers me about zimmer. He’ll only get his rookies on the field by default, especially offensively. He often refuses to play the best player in that position. Perfect example is Cleveland. Guys can tell me all they want that “Cleveland wasn’t ready” but he was 50x better than Samia and should’ve been on the field WAY earlier than he was.

I just hope that we don’t continue to play Hill all year when Darrisaw is back healthy and clearly the better option. Obviously it’s going to be a bit because Darrisaw just got back but if he stays healthy and isn’t the starter by years end, that’s a problem.

To be honest, hill is our weakest link right now. Cleveland and Udoh have played really well so far this year. Especially Udoh. O’Neill as of week 2, has given up 0 pressures, 0 hits, 0 hurries and 0 sacks. Bradbury is still up in the air but I thought the last two games he’s been solid. Hill just worries me. He’s an excellent swing backup tackle to habe but as a full time starter, he can shut down chandler Jones one week and be a revolving door the next. If we can get darrisaw in there and he pans out to what he should, this is going to be a very very promising offensive line
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Re: "Breaking Browns" Pre-game Thread

Post by Dmizzle0 » Thu Sep 30, 2021 7:29 am

Im more worried about the pass Defense. They have Clowney and Garrett that are really fast and can disrupt the OL. Vikings also need to be careful with the screen play calls. I think we have all the pieces on offense. The right plays have to be called (duh) and we cant get predictable. Im really liking bow Conklin is stepping up.

We're going against our old offensive coordinator so this will be interesting.
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Re: "Breaking Browns" Pre-game Thread

Post by StpViking » Thu Sep 30, 2021 8:39 am

This team completely changed my expectation with their performance against the Cardinals. That D line IMO is better than the Browns. Whatever the coaches did there, they need to do that again this week.

Baker Mayfield is overrated, seeing his highlights on youtube, he misses a lot of open receivers. Their offense runs a lot of power, especially up the middle. Hopefully the money the team spent on their 2 fat boys up the middle pays off this game.

Score:
Vikes: 24
Browns: 14
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Re: "Breaking Browns" Pre-game Thread

Post by CharVike » Thu Sep 30, 2021 11:40 am

I think the Browns have a better team than most think. Of course there not in the top level but they were a playoff team last year and they won a game and gave the Chiefs all they wanted. It's not like they got their heads handed to them. This year so far they have done what was expected. The complete opposite of us. They played two teams with nothing on offense but they didn't fold and let them hang around until the end. That says alot about them. They will come and play hard solid football. They kept there offense together and there are mixed opinions about Mayfield. I thought he was a bust but he played at a decent level last year and ok this season. Stephanski seems to be getting the best from him and he's still a young QB. Plus they have talent on that offense. The OL is good, they have a couple good backs, solid TEs and some weapons at WR. OBJ is a rocket which keeps the defense back. Nothing great but solid. There defense is still a bit of a question mark. Mahomes did his usual and the Browns didn't get after him. The Chiefs OL held them in check. In Houston T Taylor was actually having a dam good game against them and then got hurt. That 3rd round guy was bad but it's not like he couldn't do anything. He played much better than a typical 3rd round rookie QB getting his 1st action.
I expect the Browns to run the ball. I don't think we can stop it at least based on previous games. Then they will do some play action rolls and hit some passes. I think they will score. I think we can move the ball on them provided we play well on all levels and score some points. I see it 30-24 Browns.
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Re: "Breaking Browns" Pre-game Thread

Post by VikingLord » Thu Sep 30, 2021 12:03 pm

CharVike wrote:
Thu Sep 30, 2021 11:40 am
I think the Browns have a better team than most think.
I wouldn't say that. For example, the power rankings over on ESPN have them as the 6th best team in the league:

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/322 ... erback-far

By comparison, the Vikings are ranked 20th in that assessment.

I'll give you another example from the pre-game analysis over on Vikings.com.

https://www.vikings.com/video/vikings-b ... fl-network

At the end of that video there is a summary of expert predictions for the game. Out of 10 predictions, only 1 favors the Vikings.

Maybe Vikings fans might be discounting how good the Browns are, but those without a dog in the fight would probably pick the Browns in this one.
CharVike wrote:
Thu Sep 30, 2021 11:40 am
I expect the Browns to run the ball. I don't think we can stop it at least based on previous games. Then they will do some play action rolls and hit some passes. I think they will score. I think we can move the ball on them provided we play well on all levels and score some points. I see it 30-24 Browns.
Yeah, the ability of the Vikings to limit the Browns running game, especially on 1st and 2nd downs, will be key, as will their ability to limit the RBs and TEs in the passing game as well. The Vikings manage that on defense, I think they win.

This is really a game the Vikings have to win if they're going to be taken seriously by anyone. It's a home game, they're 1-2, and the Browns are pretty universally thought to be a good team and maybe even one of the better teams in the AFC. So if the Vikings want to step up and out and let everyone know they are for real, this is the game to do that.
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Re: "Breaking Browns" Pre-game Thread

Post by Rhodes Closed » Thu Sep 30, 2021 12:09 pm

The one thing I feel I should mention in regards to the offense is it appears Kubiak is actually letting Kirk Cousins call plays at the line based on what he sees. He'll have a designed play but if Kirk seemingly notices a weakness, such as a player changing position and formation, he'll call an audible for that defensive position. Against Seattle and the Cardinals, it worked wonders.

Dunno if anyone else noticed that.
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Re: "Breaking Browns" Pre-game Thread

Post by CharVike » Thu Sep 30, 2021 1:34 pm

VikingLord wrote:
Thu Sep 30, 2021 12:03 pm
CharVike wrote:
Thu Sep 30, 2021 11:40 am
I think the Browns have a better team than most think.
I wouldn't say that. For example, the power rankings over on ESPN have them as the 6th best team in the league:

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/322 ... erback-far

By comparison, the Vikings are ranked 20th in that assessment.

I'll give you another example from the pre-game analysis over on Vikings.com.

https://www.vikings.com/video/vikings-b ... fl-network

At the end of that video there is a summary of expert predictions for the game. Out of 10 predictions, only 1 favors the Vikings.

Maybe Vikings fans might be discounting how good the Browns are, but those without a dog in the fight would probably pick the Browns in this one.
CharVike wrote:
Thu Sep 30, 2021 11:40 am
I expect the Browns to run the ball. I don't think we can stop it at least based on previous games. Then they will do some play action rolls and hit some passes. I think they will score. I think we can move the ball on them provided we play well on all levels and score some points. I see it 30-24 Browns.
Yeah, the ability of the Vikings to limit the Browns running game, especially on 1st and 2nd downs, will be key, as will their ability to limit the RBs and TEs in the passing game as well. The Vikings manage that on defense, I think they win.

This is really a game the Vikings have to win if they're going to be taken seriously by anyone. It's a home game, they're 1-2, and the Browns are pretty universally thought to be a good team and maybe even one of the better teams in the AFC. So if the Vikings want to step up and out and let everyone know they are for real, this is the game to do that.
I meant that towards the fans myself included. I didn't really look that closely at them until this game and was surprised what I found out. They're a good team and if we play with anything but our A game we will be in serious trouble. The last thing you want is to get into one dimensional offense trying to come back. We need to try and flip the table and make them come back. They can be passed on which I was trying to show so we need to try and take advantage of that.
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