Week 1 opponent – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ah the start of a new season! No preseason doesn’t count, because now the games matter.
Week 1 finds the Browns heading to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers, a team which finished 3-13 last year. But you say “…that was last year, and hell the Browns weren’t much better finishing with only 2 more wins.” Well there is some truth to that. But lets turn our attention back to Tampa.
This year the Bucs will rely heavily on 2nd year QB Josh Freeman and former Browns TE Kellen Winslow to provide any attack through the air. Last season Winslow amassed 77 receptions, while the next leading receiver on that list was WR Antonio Bryant, who is no longer with the team. Tampa still has RB Cadillac Williams, but after a slew of injuries, one has to wonder how much gas is let in the tank?
Tampa runs a base 4-3 defense and has tried to improve the d-line through the draft in recent year, but with little success. The rest of the defense is filled up of many unfamiliar names, though former Browns S Sean Jones apart of the secondary. Yes long gone are the days when Tampa’s defense was a force to be reckoned with.
So how will the Browns win this week? Plain a simple, stick to what they do best. The team will have to trust in the run and set the tone early. Outside of CB Ronde Barder (other starting CB Aqib Talib is serving a one game suspension), there isn’t much to be worried about deep, so the passing game should be able to open up. On defense the Browns will have to pressure Freeman and hopefully rattle the youngster, he’s a big guy so taking him down is easier said than done. Freeman is also recovering from a broken thumb and has had some trouble throwing in practice this week, an aspect which will surely play a role in the game Sunday. Also S TJ Ward will need to play well, as he will be “baptized by fire” this week covering Winslow.
Up next: Kansas City Chiefs