Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Browns vs. Chiefs – Week 2

The Browns come home Sunday for Week 2 against Kansas City. After last week’s self-inflicted mess in Tampa, there’s no where to go but up for the Orange & Brown.

The Opposition

Kansas City record: 1-0
Offensive rank: 29th overall/31st passing/6th rushing
Defensive rank: 29th overall/29th passing/18th rushing
All-time record: Browns lead 10-9-2, with a 7-2-1 mark in Cleveland
Last meeting: Browns won 41-34 in 2009
The line: Browns (-3)

What to Watch For

This is going to start sounding like a broken record after a few weeks, but for the Browns to win they have to run the ball effectively and stay away from turnovers/mistakes. Last week’s game against Tampa showed that this team has virtually no margin for error this season, and if they turn the ball over or make too many mistakes they just won’t have a chance.

They where able to take care of the first part against Tampa. The Browns averaged 4.5 yards per rush, with Jerome Harrison (5.8 yards per rush) and Peyton Hillis (4.6) leading the way. That’s the plan the Browns have to follow.

The Browns also need to have a better run/pass balance. Last week they threw 38 passes to just 23 runs; although it was 28 passes/23 runs before they threw the ball on their last 10 offensive plays of the game. But, even so, any game where the Browns throw more than they run is probably going to end up as a loss.

So while game conditions can dictate what the Browns have to do offensively, they need to do a better job of not putting themselves in a position where they have to throw the ball too much. That’s just not a strength of this team and they need to get the running game going and keep it going against the Chiefs.

The other big story will be if Seneca Wallace takes over at quarterback for the injured Jake Delhomme. Former Indians manager Mike Hargrove was fond of saying that starters were starters for a reason; which means your backups are not the best players.

But Wallace should be fine, at least for one week against the Chiefs. One of the biggest hurdles a backup QB has to clear is the lack of playing time as the starting QB takes all or most of the practice reps during the week.

If this were Week 10 and Wallace had been holding a clipboard for two months, it would be a different story. But we’re close enough to training camp that Wallace hasn’t had time to get rusty, plus he’s an active member of the offense in the Flash/Cyclone package – or so we’re told, we didn’t see much of that against Tampa – so he should be OK, especially playing at home.

As for the Chiefs, the bandwagon got pretty crowded after their opening week win over San Diego. But if you look closer, quarterback Matt Cassell was 10-for-22 for 68 yards and the team really only made two big plays on offense: Jamaal Charles’ 56-yard TD run and Dexter McCluster’s 94-yard punt return. It’s not as if they laid the hammer down on the Chargers. And you can’t count on special teams scores on a weekly basis.

The Best Browns vs. Kansas City Game I’ve Ever Seen

For two teams that don’t play each other very often, the Browns and the Chiefs have had some nutty games through the years, especially in Cleveland. You had the 1995 game where the Browns returned two interceptions for touchdowns; the Dwayne Rudd helmet toss game in 2002; and the 2006 game where Derek Anderson came off the bench and led the Browns to an overtime win and, in the process, turning the next three years of Browns football into an ulcer-inducing mess.

But the best one was the 1989 game that ended in a 10-10 tie in Marty Schottenheimer’s return to Cleveland as KC’s coach. It was one of the most physical Browns games I can remember.

Here’s The Plain Dealer’s game story, as well as video in Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4.

The Prediction

The Browns know they let a game get away from them last week. They were better than Tampa and, if they hadn’t turned the ball over, would have won. The defense was sound, only giving up one big play.

The team will receive a boost as they will be making their home debut in front of a fan base who truly wants something to cheer for. T.J. Ward and Joe Haden had their first taste of regular season action last week and held their own. This week the maturation continues.

If Jake Delhomme is out, the Browns should concentrate on the run and bringing out more of the Flash/Cyclone package to help Seneca Wallace out.

The Browns take the win and build some momentum heading into a tough stretch of schedule.

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