As we head into Sunday's match-up between the Cleveland Browns and the Kansas City Chiefs, we wanted to get an insider's perspective of the Chiefs' latest opponent as we do each week. This time around, Chris Pokorny, the editor of Dawgs By Nature, kindly took some time out to answer our questions on what to watch for on Sunday.
Name one Browns player on offense the Chiefs will need to watch out for.
First off, I have to say that Nick Jacobs already did a great job scouting the Browns, so your readers should already know who to watch out for. You guys should already know about WR Josh Gordon and TE Jordan Cameron - they are our best offensive players by far. With that in mind, I'll choose a wildcard in TE MarQueis Gray.
Gray is an undrafted free agent who was a former quarterback / wide receiver. He is playing the tight end position in the NFL, and for the past three weeks, we have started using him for about 5-7 snaps per game. He has been lining up at quarterback for several plays, running the read-option about once or twice per game. So far, he has only handed it off or run the ball himself from the formation. I have to imagine that Norv Turner will try to catch a team by surprise soon with a pass out of the formation.
Also, last week, Brandon Weeden threw the ball to Gray on a 30-yard out-and-up to the corner of the end zone, and he has the speed to beat a linebacker. The issue was that Weeden overthrew the ball and out of bounds. Perhaps Cleveland will try to sneak in one creative play with Gray this week.
Name one Browns player on defense the Chiefs will need to watch out for.
I will go with OLB Jabaal Sheard, who is one of the players that Nick said "did not jump out at him on tape." Sheard used to be a 4-3 defensive end for Cleveland and made the transition to outside linebacker this year. The transition went much better than expected. For the first three games of the season, Sheard was having a dominant season, both against the run and as an impressive bull rusher on passing downs.
In Week 3, Sheard had to leave part-way through the game after suffering a knee injury. He missed three games worth of action before returning last week against the Packers. Although he didn't have a standout performance against Green Bay, he was responsible for two of the few times we did get a pass rush on Aaron Rodgers. Hopefully he is more comfortable in his second game back from injury.
Make a case that the Browns have had worse quarterbacks in the last 10 years than the Chiefs.
For the sake of this argument, I'll exclude the current 2013 season for the Chiefs, since Alex Smith has helped lead them to a 7-0 start. From 2003-2005, Trent Green was quarterbacking pretty much the top offense in football. Besides one fluke year from Derek Anderson, the Browns have dealt with Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye, Brady Quinn, Colt McCoy and Brandon Weeden as the leading passes under center.
If we're using the last 10 years as the measuring stick, it's not even close: the Browns have had things way worse. If you cut that down to the last seven years, then I would say the Chiefs have pretty much been in the same boat with the likes of Damon Huard, Tyler Thigpen, and Matt Cassel. At least you guys have gone through fewer jerseys.
If Jason Campbell is going to win the game, what kind of numbers will he have? How will it happen?
Brian Hoyer was able to sustain long drives, while Brandon Weeden constantly went three-and-out. None of the other players were different during those games - just the quarterback position. The question is, "what type of player will Jason Campbell be more similar to, Hoyer of Weeden?"
To have the success that Hoyer did, Campbell doesn't need to be amazing, but rather have a high completion percentage and by getting rid of the football within three seconds to prevent the Chiefs sack-happy defense from getting to him. It's more important for Campbell to allow Cleveland to be respectable in the time of possession department than it is to have him thinking that we need points every single possession.
Do the Browns have a shot to win the AFC North? Is Cleveland talking playoffs at all?
Up until these past two weeks (losses to the Lions and Packers), I thought we had a chance at the AFC North, but I never really felt Cleveland fans started believing we were going to make the playoffs. Our hopes were more so rooted in the fact that our defense could possibly carry us through some of the games remaining on our schedule, and that our division was one of the weaker ones in football this year. Now that the Bengals are two games ahead of us, there is less optimism about our playoff chances, but a win against the Chiefs might flip that perception again.