Tale Of The Tape: Cleveland Browns At Baltimore Ravens
- QuarterbackBrandon Weeden is trying to help the Browns turn their franchise around and he has shown the ability to read defenses, find open receivers and take heavy shots from the defense and keep on playing hard. However, he does not seem to get much help from the rest of the offense and the burden of directing the Cleveland offense is a huge one.Joe Flacco is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and he has had consistent postseason success including last year’s Super Bowl triumph. However, the makeup of the Ravens have changed quite a bit and Flacco has to carry the Ravens and not just lead them. He’s got a much different assignment than he has had in the past.
- OffenseTrent Richardson has the talent to give the Browns a credible running attack, but he has not done that to this point in his career. He was held to 47 yards in Week One vs. Miami and did not look special. Jordan Cameron caught nine passes for 108 yards, but he is not a special talent. The Browns hope former Dolphin Davone Bess can keep drives alive with third-down receptions.The loss of Anquan Boldin – traded to San Francisco – is a huge one. The Ravens still have solid receivers in Torrey Smith, Brandon Stokley and tight end Dallas Clark, but they will have to be spectacular for the Ravens to be successful this year since the defense is not what it had been. Ray Rice is an explosive running back.
- DefenseThe Browns are going to be a feisty, tough team on the defensive side, but that does not mean they have enough skill to survive a 16-game season. Defensive back Chris Owens hustles and hits hard and he is coming off an eight-tackle game against the Dolphins. MLB D’Qwell Jackson had six tackles and three assists and is quite underrated.The Ravens were scorched in the season opener by Denver, so they will try to rebuild from that embarrassment. They are not as bad as they looked against Manning, but the days of having one of the best defenses in the league appear to be over. The Ravens need Terrell Suggs to emerge as their leader because of his ability to come around the corner and dominate the game.
- Special TeamsThe Browns are considerably weaker on special teams than they were in previous years. The loss of Phil Dawson is bound to hurt them since he was perhaps the most consistent placekicker in the league. Billy Cundiff is just an ordinary replacement and he seems bound to let the Browns down before long. Spencer Lanning averaged 45.0 yards per punt in Week One.One of the reasons the Ravens were able to win the Super Bowl was from the steady play they got from their special teams. Justin Tucker was a big step up from the previous kickers they had, and he started the 2013 season by making both of his FG attempts. Sam Koch is a solid punter who averaged 50.7 yards in the season opener.
The Ravens are not the Super Bowl team they were a year ago, and the early part of the season will require a major adjustment. However, they should be near their peak form in their home opener against a team that is a long way from contending in the AFC North. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor