1) START FAST AND DON’T STOP – Even though Jacksonville is winless on the season, the Browns can’t afford another horrendous start on the road like they had in Pittsburgh and Tennessee. You don’t want to give a lousy football team any hope or belief that they can win. So Brian Hoyer and the offense needs to score early and play from ahead or at least be even going into the locker room at the half and then turn on the 2nd half after burners and put this terrible team away.
2) HANDLE THE JAGS ONLY STRENGTH, THEIR DEFENSIVE LINE – The one thing the Jaguars have done a decent job off this season is getting to the quarterback. Through 6 games they have racked up 19 sacks. Most of that pressure comes from their D-Line out of their 4-3 defense. Defensive ends Chris Clemons and Andre Branch have 3 sacks each, while defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks has 2. With Alex Mack out and John Greco moving over to center and Paul McQuistan in at right guard, the Browns O-Line will be tested this weekend. How they handle the pressure up front, will go a long way in determining the outcome of the game. While Jacksonville’s defense has struggled the first 4 games of the season giving up an average of 38 points per game, that same defense has yielded only 33 total points in its last 2 games.
3) PASS THE BALL – While there is a concern about Jacksonville’s pass rush, if you can control it, you can do a lot of damage through the air. The Jags pass defense is ranked 30th in the league giving up 294 yards per game. Use the running game to soften up the pass rush and keep Paul Posluszny and those defensive linemen honest, and then hit them for the big play like the Browns did with play action and misdirection against the Steelers. Big chunks of yardage and points are there for the taking.
4) PIGSKIN PROTECTION – Brian Hoyer, Ben Tate and Isaiah Crowell, the guys who handle the ball the most, need to make sure they don’t give it away. Nothing breathes life into a team faster than getting turnovers and short fields.
5) STUPIFY BLAKE BORTLES – The 3rd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft is making his 4th start of the season since taking over for Chad Henne. What Mike Pettine and defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil need to do is change up their defensive looks every series to get Bortles thinking and guessing instead of just playing. Make it as uncomfortable for the rookie both mentally and physically, so he can’t get into a rhythm and gain any confidence as the game goes along. You don’t want the game close in the 4th quarter allowing Bortles to think they have a chance to win it late. Also Bortles is a threat to run it, so Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner need to be ready. After what Jake Locker did to the Browns 2 weeks ago, I’m sure it’s something Bortles will be looking to exploit.
6) SECONDARY SUCCESS – The Browns did a much better job last week against the Steelers in the backend of their defense. Another solid game from Joe Haden, Buster Skrine and Justin Gilbert will help make up for a pass rush that is lacking do to all the injuries the Browns have up front. Allen Hurns is the Jags homerun threat, so give Haden some help over the top with him, but also keep an eye on fellow wide outs and a now healthy Cecil Shorts and rookie Allen Robinson.