Tale Of The Tape: Cleveland Browns At Jacksonville Jaguars
- QuarterbackAt the start of the season, the question was how long it would take for rookie Johnny Manziel to take over as starting quarterback from Brian Hoyer. Someone forgot to hand that script to Hoyer, who has played quite well this season and is showing no signs of a quarterback who is just merely holding a place for a future starter. Hoyer reads defenses well, throws an accurate pass and looks comfortable behind center.The Jaguars continue to struggle this season and rookie quarterback Blake Bortles is learning just how difficult it is to play quarterback in the NFL when the offensive line struggles to find its consistency and the skill players are just ordinary. Bortles has the arm strength and size to be an effective quarterback, but he has to find a way to avoid interceptions.
- OffenseThe Browns have shown a tendency to push hard in the second half and the ability to cut the deficit after they fall behind. Much of this is due to the hard running of Ben Tate, who uses an aggressive style to get through small holes and break arm tackles. Wide receiver Miles Austin is a strong route runner who knows how to get open, while tight end Jordan Cameron is an emerging star.The Jaguars have gotten very little from their running game this year, and that’s not surprising considering the dearth of talent they have at the position along with the inconsistent play of the offensive line. Cecil Shorts is a solid receiving threat when healthy, but he has been battling hamstring problems. Tight end Clay Harbor is an impressive target, but he has been bothered by back issues.
- DefenseThe Browns have been struggling on defense and rank 31st in yards allowed, but they have a number of impressive players who could help this unit turn it around shortly. Outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo has the speed to turn the corner and get to the quarterback, while Karlos Dansby is a big hitter who can intimidate opponents. Cornerback Joe Haden is a solid cover man.The Jaguars have been giving up huge plays on defense since the start of the season, and those plays have taken the heart out of this unit. Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny has tried to hold the Jaguars defense together, but he can’t do it alone. The Jaguars need a lot more from defensive ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant, who have not played up to expectations.
- Special TeamsThe Browns have managed to hold their own in special teams coverage, and they are hoping that Travis Benjamin can break a long punt return. Spencer Lanning has average leg strength but is a decent directional punter, while Billy Cundiff is just an ordinary placekicker.The Jaguars have been picking it up in recent weeks with their special teams play, and if Mike Brown can shake loose and give them a few decent punt returns, they have a chance to gain an edge here. The Jaguars would like to see Bryan Anger drop a few more punts inside the 20.
The Browns have a chance to pick up a rare road win, and much of that is due to the impressive play of Hoyer. He is emerging as a decent NFL quarterback and he has the advantage against a struggling Jacksonville team. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports