Browns, weather look to slow Leonard Fournette
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns may be gaining an ally in the weather when it comes to stopping Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette on Sunday.
The Cleveland Browns have a tall task ahead of them Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Cleveland will host the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are sitting atop the AFC South Division with a 6-3 record. The Jaguars have also built a defense that is the league’s best in passing yards allowed per game (165.1), sacks (35), touchdown passes allowed (six), quarterback rating (65.9) and points per game (14.9); while checking in tied for third with the most interceptions (11).
The Browns will counter with an offense that might be without starting center JC Tretter and starting right tackle Shon Coleman. Cleveland is also near the bottom of the league in yards per game (ranked No. 23), turnover margin (31st with a minus 13), and points per game (No. 31).
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Cleveland may be catching a break with the weather, however, as Sunday’s forecast is calling for cold, windy and wet weather. That should play into the Browns hands as the weather could push the Jaguars to go run heavy against a Browns defense that is the league’s best by allowing just 3.1 yards per carry.
In addition to the Browns defense, the weather may put a hit on Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette, who is no fan of what people in these parts call true football weather.
When asked on Friday about the prospect of playing in chilly weather, Fournette made his feelings clear, according to jacksonville.com:
"“I hate the cold period. I sleep in the heat. That’s just how I grew up. Mentally I’m just trying to get my mind ready — that’s all. It’s the little things, you take a little hit (in the cold) and it hurts. I wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t cold.’’"
Fournette comes into the game dealing with an ankle injury that limited him to just 33 yards last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, but in the two games prior he rushed for 130 yards against the Los Angeles Rams and 181 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even though he has missed two games this season, Fournette still leads the Jaguars in rushing.
If Fournette is already worrying about the weather on Friday afternoon, imagine what he will be like once he walks onto the field in a damp, cold stadium on Sunday afternoon. Add in a couple of good shots from defensive tackle Danny Shelton or linebacker Christian Kirksey, and Fournette could quickly become a non-factor, which would be a good thing for the Browns.
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And for a team that is 0-9 for the second consecutive season, it can use any advantage it can find.