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News » Browns-Jaguars Preview 2008-10-30

Browns-Jaguars Preview 2008-10-30

Browns-Jaguars Preview 2008-10-30
The Jacksonville Jaguars have had a week off to revel in a critical road win in which they delivered their best offensive performance of the season.

Coming off another loss in which they struggled to move the ball, the Cleveland Browns had a tumultuous week in which they initially suspended one of their top options on offense.

After a difficult week involving tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. and his comments critical to the organization, the Browns will head to Jacksonville on Sunday for the first time since 2002 to face the rejuvenated Jaguars.

Cleveland (2-4) has the second-worst offense in the NFL (263.8 yards per game), and the Browns totaled just 236 yards in a 14-11 loss at Washington on Sunday. Winslow, their Pro Bowl tight end, had just two catches for 17 yards in his return to the field after sitting out the team's 35-14 win over the New York Giants a week earlier with an undisclosed injury.

After the loss to the Redskins, Winslow explained he had a staph infection, an injury the team asked him to keep quiet. The staph infection was Winslow's second, and the sixth to occur with a Browns player since 2005 - and he said he felt as if he was treated "like a piece of meat."

Two days later, Cleveland suspended Winslow for this game. The Browns, however, agreed to rescind the suspension Saturday, although Winslow still won't play Sunday.

"His statements brought unjustified negative attention to our organization, and violated the team-first concept of our football squad," general manager Phil Savage said earlier this week.

The Jaguars have given up touchdowns to tight ends in each of their last two games. Backup Steve Heiden has been nursing a strained pectoral, though he's expected to play Sunday with Winslow out.

Jacksonville (3-3) couldn't get anything going offensively in an 0-2 start, but has looked much better in winning three of its last four games. The Jaguars came through with perhaps their best win of the season before their bye, piling up a season-high 416 yards in a 24-17 win at Denver.

"I feel like we're a team that survived the early storm," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio told the team's official Web site. "We feel our best football is in front of us.

"I feel like we're an improving team. They last game we played was probably our best football game."

Cleveland (2-4) played easily its best game that same weekend, racking up 454 yards in a 35-14 thrashing of the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants on Oct. 13. But the Browns, who had been held to under 210 yards of offense in each of their first three losses, struggled again to maintain their offensive consistency in Washington.

A week after completing 62.1 percent of his passes for 310 yards in the win over the Giants, quarterback Derek Anderson was just 14-for-37 (37.8 percent) for 136 yards against the Redskins.

"This team reverted back to some of the things they did earlier in the year," Browns coach Romeo Crennel said. "It's hard to blame one particular guy, but as the quarterback, he takes a lot of the blame because he is the guy with the ball in his hands."

Without Winslow, who has a team-high 21 catches, Cleveland needs receiver Braylon Edwards to step up. Edwards, who joined Winslow on the AFC Pro Bowl roster last season, led the NFL with seven dropped passes coming into Sunday's game and added five more in Washington.

The Browns have improved from 30th in total defense last season (359.6 ypg) to 18th in 2008 (329.3 ypg), but they've been even more vulnerable against the run than they were last season, when they gave up an average of 129.5 yards on the ground.

This season, Cleveland has allowed 146.3 rushing yards per game, including an average of 187 yards the last two weeks. It won't get any easier against Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor.

"We need to know how to play the angle and where to be," Crennel told the Browns' official Web site. "We have to eliminate those cutbacks where the guy can plant and come back downhill on us."

Winslow isn't the only playmaker to have been suspended this week, but in the case of Matt Jones, it was the NFL who made the decision to shelve the Jaguars' wide receiver. Jones was suspended for three games by the league on Monday for violating the league's substance abuse program, though Del Rio expects him to appeal the decision.

Jones leads the Jaguars with 30 receptions. Jacksonville already will be without receiver Mike Walker, who's recovering from a knee injury. That should lead to an increased role from Jerry Porter, who missed the team's first three games with a torn hamstring and has just one catch.

The Jaguars lead the all-time series 8-2, but those two losses have come in the Browns' last two visits to Jacksonville, in 2001 and 2002.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 30, 2008

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Seth McKinney Name: Seth McKinney
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