The Cleveland Browns are 0-5, but this matchup on Sunday is more concerning than any game the Texans have played to date. Why?
*Loss of J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus
*The young, explosive talent on the Browns roster
*An experienced and talented Browns offensive line
*Quarterback Kevin Hogan starting for the first time
*The Browns have to be desperate
*The Browns will be desperate
*I get concerned easily
C'mon, it's the old coach in me that won't allow me to get comfortable against Hue Jackson's winless Browns. Take a look at the schedule results down below. The Browns suffered three losses by three points each, including last week's loss to the New York Jets.
This team is too talented to not win, and should win multiple games in 2017. Consequently, facing a Texans team coming off of a physical Sunday night contest, one week before a bye, the Browns are seemingly catching the Texans at the right time, for them anyway. The Texans must look past the 0-5 record and see the talented team the Browns can, and will, be in due time. That time could come on Sunday under the leadership of former Stanford star quarterback Kevin Hogan. He nearly pulled one out of the fire against the Jets with his second half performance. With a full week to prepare as the starter, could he do it this week against the Texans?
Let's get to know the Cleveland Browns, 2017 version.
2017 Team Profile - (0-5)
L, Pittsburgh 21-18
L, Baltimore 24-10
L, Indianapolis 31-28
L, Cincinnati 31-7
L, New York Jets 17-14
Rush offense - 89.2 ypg (25th in the NFL)
Passing offense - 231.4 ypg (16th)
Total offense - 320.6 ypg (21st)
Scoring - 15.4 ppg (31st)
Third down percentage conversion - 31.3% (30th)
Giveaways - 13 - 11 INT
2 Fumbles lost (1st in MOST giveaways in NFL)
This is the projected starting lineup for Sunday's matchup with the Browns.
WR - Kasen Williams
WR - Ricardo Louis
LT - Joe Thomas
LG - Joel Bitonio
C - J.C. Tretter
RG - Kevin Zeitler
RT - Shon Coleman
TE - David Njoku
TE - Randall Telfer
QB - Kevin Hogan
RB - Isaiah Crowell
Key Offensive non-starters
WR - Kenny Britt (Inactive last week)
WR - Bryce Treggs
TE - Seth DeValve
RB - Duke Johnson
FB - Dan Vitale
What's the biggest concern for the TEXANS defense facing the CLEVELAND offense?
In the offseason, the Browns spent a bunch of money on upgrades to an already solid unit. Joe Thomas and Joel Bitonio are two of the best at their respective positions in the league and the Browns added center J.C. Tretter and right guard Kevin Zeitler to the mix. The overall production on this offense doesn't match what this offense has up front, in large part, due to the inconsistency at the quarterback position.
With Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt out for the season, this offensive line has a much different challenge this week than what it appeared to be a couple of weeks ago. Regardless of the Texans defensive personnel up front, the Browns offensive line is the strength of this offense and biggest concern for this Texans defense.
That all said, Browns head coach Hue Jackson has named Kevin Hogan his starter for this week after finishing the Jets game 16-of-19 for 194 yards and two touchdowns. That sort of production, week in and week out, will put Ws up on the board for the Browns. Combine that line, giving Hogan time to throw, against a Texans defense that has lost serious firepower, and this Browns offense is a difficult matchup.
What's the biggest concern for the BROWNS offense facing the HOUSTON defense?
What has held the Browns back this season is consistent quarterback play, yet Kevin Hogan was named the starter for Sunday due to his production against the Jets in the second half. He finished well against the Jets defense that has some serious talent on the defensive side of the ball.
Yet, the Browns are one of the bottom 10 teams in the league in running the football. The Texans are giving up 101.8 yards per game, 14th in the NFL, which isn't stellar, but they've had some brilliant moments on first and second down against the run. It just couldn't get off the field on third down against the Chiefs.
Rush defense - 76.6 ypg (5th in the NFL)
Passing defense - 228.2 ypg (19th)
Total defense - 304.8 ypg (5th)
Scoring - 24.8 ppg (26th)
3rd down percentage conversion allowed - 42.% (Tied for 23rd)
Takeaways - 6 - 3 INT
3 fumble recovery - (Tied for 15th for most takeaways in NFL)
This is the projected starting lineup for the Browns on Sunday
DE - Myles Garrett
DT - Trevon Coley
DT - Danny Shelton
DE - Emmanuel Ogbah
WLB - Christian Kirksey
MLB - Joe Schobert
SLB - Jamie Collins (returning from concussion)
CB - Jason McCourty
CB - Jamar Taylor
S - Derrick Kindred
S - Jabrill Peppers
Key Defensive non-starters
DE - Carl Nassib
OLB - James Burgess
OLB - Nate Orchard
DT - Larry Ogunjobi
Nickel - Briean Boddy-Calhoun
What's the biggest concern for the BROWNS defense facing the HOUSTON offense?
The Texans receivers should be a major issue for this Browns defense. The secondary doesn't have a ton of experience, nor does it have a great deal of speed, so how does this unit match up with DeAndre Hopkins, Bruce Ellington and Will Fuller V?
The return of Myles Garrett is a tremendous boost for the Browns defense. He had two sacks in limited time last week and should see even more time on the field this week against the Texans. But, if the Texans protect quarterback Deshaun Watson, he should have success against this Browns secondary, utilizing all of his pass catching weapons.
What's the biggest concern for the TEXANS offense facing this CLEVELAND defense?
Like the Cleveland offensive line, the Browns defensive front is stout and deep. The Browns are in the top five in the league against the run so the Texans may not have immediate success on the ground, but will have to stick to the run to have it pay off later in the game.