Thursday, September 24, 2020

Behind Enemy Lines: Breaking down the Browns' Week 2 game with Bengals Wire


Jeff Risdon 


The Browns get prime-time treatment in Week 2. What will Cleveland and the rest of the country see when the Cincinnati Bengals head into FirstEnergy Stadium on Thursday night?

To help get some answers, I turned to Bengals Wire managing editor and old friend Chris Roling for some intel on the visitors from the other end of I-71 in Ohio.

What is the perception of Joe Burrow’s performance in Week 1?

Burrow himself was too hard on his performance with the “D” grade. But there was certainly a gradual progression throughout his debut as he got adjusted to pro speed and realized his line wasn’t doing much to protect him. It’s generally accepted as an up-and-down performance.

He had a horrific shovel-pass interception that he lofted right into the arms of a defender. But he also audibled to his long touchdown run and orchestrated a brilliant drive with three minutes left before a tough flag led to the missed field goal attempt.

There have been some changes to the defense and some injuries too. Who has stepped up and who is looking vulnerable?

Cornerback Darius Phillips had a rougher Week 1 than the team would’ve liked to see with him playing in place of the injured Trae Waynes. But that’s comparing him to the elite showing from William Jackson. Right now the biggest concern is health, as Geno Atkins hasn’t been able to suit up yet and D.J. Reader suffered a minor injury last Sunday. Otherwise, the upgrades at linebacker have been a notable improvement, and Vonn Bell looks good as the new starter next to Jessie Bates.

Obviously the kicking situation is a big deal, but how are the rest of the Bengals special teams?

Coordinator Darrin Simmons remains one of the best in the business, but even this is pretty impressive. He had to wave goodbye to core pieces like Clayton Fejedelem and Stanley Morgan this offseason. But he’s put a name like Giovani Bernard in a key spot, and the turnover has yet to have much of an impact.

We’ll see how Randy Bullock nurses his calf injury on a short week, but everything else has managed to remain steady.

What is one area where the Browns look like they should have a big advantage, and also one where the Bengals should thrive?

The Browns are probably going to do whatever they want against this Bengals offensive line. Jonah Williams had some serious rookie moments last week, and Billy Price is already back in the starting lineup after an injury. The coaching staff inexplicably put Bobby Hart on an island with Joey Bosa multiple times, which is one of the least ideal things possible.

Funnily enough, the Bengals should thrive in the same areas, as edge players like Carl Lawson and Carlos Dunlap are still as disruptive as it gets.

Who wins and why?

This one probably goes to the Browns. Losing to Baltimore, even in blowout fashion, doesn’t seem like the worst thing in the world right now. Burrow’s first road game of his career — and in prime time — is asking a lot of the rookie, especially with this offensive line in front of him. Add in missing Geno Atkins and keeping A.J. Green on a pitch count, and the Browns should squeak past.

Popular Posts