When you start to think about the Browns record the last two years a potential 1-31 record is hard to do. An even less likely record for one season is 0-16. There has been one team go 0-16 in a season and that is the 2008 Detroit Lions, who had by far the worst season for any team in NFL History. If the Browns cannot beat the Steelers on Sunday, they will join those Lions as the only 2 teams to go winless for an entire season. So how likely is it the Browns will go 0-16? On Thursday, Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin, announced that Ben Roethlisberger, Leveon Bell and Antonio Brown will not play Sunday. Brown of course is out after the injury he sustained in week 15 against the New England Patriots. Roethlisberger and Bell are both out for rest and to heal from any injuries sustained throughout the long season. So, what do the Browns need to do to keep themselves in the game and give themselves a shot to win their first game this season?
First and foremost, they need to match the intensity the Steelers play with. If they do not match their intensity, not much else will matter and they will get blown out. The Steelers play tough nose football and the Browns need to match that physicality. They can set the tone in the game by getting their run game established and continue to pound the ball with Isaiah Crowell. This is a big aspect of their game, which they do not do enough. In the past few games they have gotten out to quick starts with the run game and then just went away from it, which is a disaster recipe, especially with a rookie QB who has shown accuracy issues in and out of the pocket.
They need to get Crowell involved early and often, get ahead of the chains and mix in some play-action wrinkles to pick up some chunk yardage. If they try to put the ball in Deshone Kizers hands to throw 40 to 50 times, they will get the same result they have gotten most of the season, some occasional good throws, but mostly inaccurate throws. Kizer has shown all season that he is inaccurate, which is not going to just magically change. The Browns need to simplify the pass plays and lean on the run game.
Defensively, they need to get pressure on Steelers quarterback, Landry Jones. They need to get some kind of pressure, to force the ball out of the Quarterbacks hands. The scheme they play with has put the defensive backs in bad situations time and time again this season, so quick pressure would surely help the Browns secondary.
They have been pretty good at stopping the run this year, ranking 7th as a rushing defense, only allowing 96 yards per game, which is a 50-yard improvement from last season. If they can limit the run game and force Landry Jones to throw the ball, they may be able to get some pressure on him and force a turnover or two. If the Browns defense can force a couple turnovers, keep the Steelers in some 3rd and long situations and give the offense a couple short field drives, they will give themselves a chance to snag their first win of the season. One thing we know for sure, the Browns will show up and play hard, like they have done all season, and hopefully a good result will finally show for it.