Nov. 4—The Browns, stung by a last-minute loss to Seattle and knowing they have a critical game against the Ravens in Baltimore next week, are doing their best to not look past the lowly Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals (1-7) visit Cleveland Browns Stadium on Nov. 5 in a game the Browns should — should — win handily. Even so, the Browns' caution is real.
"They've been ahead in almost every game that they've played," Browns receiver Amari Cooper said. "They've only not been ahead in one game. So, they're very competitive, and you can see that from the defense. They're making plays all over the field, keeping the team in the game. So, it's going to present a challenge to us, for sure."
The Cardinals have outscored their opponents in the first half, 104-92, but the second half is just the opposite. They have been hammered in the fourth quarter, 77-24.
Deshaun Watson is starting at quarterback for the Browns. He is healthy for the first time since he was injured running the ball Sept. 24 in a game with the Titans, but it is impossible to predict how he will perform. The Browns are 2-1 with Watson and 2-2 without him.
"It motivates us," Browns defensive end Myles Garrett said. "He's been a big motivator in the locker room and on the field, even though he hasn't been playing. But seeing him on the field doing his thing, balling out, having fun, supporting the guys. It's just another level."
Anyone who has been paying attention knows the Browns will go as far as the defense carries them. But the defense is not without flaws.
"Right now, I'm pretty sure they're looking at our tape," said middle linebacker and Browns captain Anthony Walker. "The last two weeks, we haven't stopped the run worth a (bleep). So, we need to change that right now and we have a big task ahead of us."
The Browns will be in serious trouble if the Cardinals have success running on them. Their leading rusher, James Conner, is on injured reserve with a knee injury. Their second-leading rusher, quarterback Joshua Dobbs, was traded to the Vikings on Oct. 31 and their third-leading rusher, Emari Demercado, is out with a toe injury.
The Browns have their own injury situation. Cornerback Greg Newsome II is out with a groin injury and defensive end Alex Wright is down with a knee injury.
Trading Dobbs means the Browns will face an Arizona quarterback who hasn't played this season. Kyler Murray, out since December of last year because of a knee injury, has been practicing with no restrictions and is listed as questionable. Rookie Clayton Tune has been practicing with the starters and is expected to start against the Browns. Still, the Browns had to practice for both quarterbacks.
"We have eight games of their offense on film and with Dobbs," Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "They ran a lot of quarterback runs. I wouldn't be surprised if there's anything different with Kyler Murray if he plays, and I would expect if the rookie plays for them to stay with what they've done.
"We're going to look at the scheme. We're going to take into account players' individual strengths and weaknesses as we put our scheme together, but we'll be ready whatever they decide to do."
Drew Petzing is the Cardinals' offensive coordinator. He was the Browns tight ends coach in 2020 and 2021. He was Cleveland's quarterbacks coach last year.
Cardinals at Browns
When: 1 p.m. Nov. 5
Where: Cleveland Browns Stadium
Records: Cardinals 1-7, Browns 4-3
TV: WOIO Radio: WKRK-FM 92.3, WNCX-FM 98.5, WKNR-AM 850