COMMENTARY | The Indianapolis Colts host the Cleveland Browns on Saturday night in Week 3 of the NFL preseason, and what would normally be a laugher could turn into a bigger challenge than most Colts fans might think.
While it's true that football fans have to go back a few decades to remember when the Browns were a regular power in the NFL, the winds of change may have finally arrived in Cleveland, and that could present some problems for the Colts this weekend.
New Offensive Scheme
Browns new head coach Rob Chudzinski and new offensive coordinator Norv Turner have installed a vertical passing scheme in Cleveland that quarterback Brandon Weeden has been executing to perfection in his first two preseason games. In those two contests combined, Weeden is 18-of-25 for 229 yards with three touchdowns and no picks.
Weeden certainly has some talented -- if not quite polished -- offensive weapons at his disposal, especially at wide receiver. Josh Gordon and Greg Little have the speed to seriously challenge the Colts' secondary, which was anything but spectacular last season. David Nelson, formerly of the Buffalo Bills, could also be back after missing some time with a knee injury.
Cleveland tight end Jordan Cameron was drafted in 2011 out of USC, and his first two seasons in the NFL have been anything but spectacular.
However, whether it's to be attributed to the new offensive scheme or Cameron's development as a player (or both), he has suddenly become a force to be reckoned with. He's been having an impressive camp and preseason, which he most recently capped with three receptions for 42 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Detroit Lions.
Cameron also lines up in the slot position, which creates problems for defenses. He was a wide receiver in college for two years for the Trojans before converting to tight end, so he's got some impressive athleticism. He's going to be a handful for the Colts' linebackers and defensive backs.
Last season, running back Trent Richardson could only come up with 8 yards on as many carries against the Colts, but things are different this season. Richardson ran through the Lions for 33 yards on six carries, and Norv Turner loves what he sees.
"He is really rolling right now," Turner told Ryan Lewis and Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. "I'm impressed with what I see in practice. The plays he had in the game, he was outstanding, and he's a guy that defenses have to gear their thinking to stopping."
With defenders forced to consider an actual passing offense out of Cleveland now, the Colts can't just stack the box to stop the Browns' running attack. That will allow more room for Richardson to exploit the Indianapolis run defense, which all Colts fans know has not been a strength.
New Defensive Scheme
As if the Browns' offense won't be causing enough headaches for the Colts, they also have a new defensive scheme in Cleveland under new defensive coordinator Ray Horton. It's a high-risk 3-4 defense that apparently has some "exotic" twists to it -- although the Browns have yet to unveil any of that exoticism in the preseason.
Still, despite not showing off their full repertoire before the regular season begins, the Browns have already ramped up the pressure on opposing quarterbacks -- something they have long stunk at doing -- during the preseason. They don't have a sack yet, but the first-teamers have only allowed three points in two games so far.
On Saturday, that first-team defense plans on playing into the second half, so the Colts' rebuilt offensive line will have their hands full, keeping Andrew Luck in one piece.
Are these challenges that the Indianapolis Colts can overcome? Or will the Browns head back to Lake Erie with a victory on Saturday night?
The author is a resident of central Indiana and a long-time follower of the Colts.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Indianapolis Colts
- Cleveland Browns
- Norv Turner
- Brandon Weeden
- Trent Richardson
- the Browns