Insider: 11 things to watch when the Indianapolis Colts take on the Cleveland Browns

Insider: 11 things to watch when the Indianapolis Colts take on the Cleveland Browns

INDIANAPOLIS – Rookie shortstop Anthony Richardson needs to find a way to regain momentum after a bad day in Jacksonville last week.

It won’t be easy to come back off the mat against the Browns defense this season.
Indianapolis returns home to face Cleveland at 1 p.m. On Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium (WTTV-4), the Jaguars hope to shake things up in the suddenly vacated AFC South.

The Colts (3-3) enter the game against the Browns (3-2) within two wins of Jacksonville (5-2), and the Jaguars have already swept the season series between the two teams.
Richardson.
Judging by their care, the foals have a lot of work to do.
Brown’s defense has been historically good.

1.
Cleveland’s defense is putting up incredible numbers.
The Browns lead the NFL in DVOA, total yards (200.4 per game), yards per game (3.82), passing yards per game (121.4), first downs (10.4 per game) and percentage third down (23.08%). Cleveland also ranks second in yards per game (4.56) and sacks per pass attempt (11.28), third in passing yards (79.0) and fourth in yards per carry (3.46).
The Browns haven’t given up 300 yards in a single game and have been held to less than 220 yards in three of five games this season, including a 94-yard choke of Tennessee.

2.
In two starts this season, Gardner Minshew has completed 60 of 99 passes for 556 yards (60.6%), two touchdowns, three interceptions, 5.6 yards per attempt and a 70.1 quarterback rating.
At his most effective, he throws short, quick passes. Minshew ranks in the bottom six in the NFL in time to throw (2.58 seconds), yards completed (4.6) and yards expected (6.9).
Now he faces a Browns defense that is giving up a 51.9 percent completion percentage and 5.4 yards per attempt.

Three.
Cleveland’s defense has more man-to-man coverage than any other team in the NFL, and the Browns’ cornerbacks cover just about everyone.
Corner no.
1 in Cleveland, Denzel Ward is completing his targets 30.4 percent of the time, Martin Emerson is dropping 15.8 percent of his completions, and Greg Newsome has just a 75.2 quarterback rating.
If the Browns want to emulate Jacksonville’s packing-the-box strategy, they would already be familiar with that style of game plan, as they could rely on their corners in man-to-man play with Michael Pittman Jr., Alec Pierce and Josh Downs.

Can the Colts run the ball?
4. Indianapolis can try to find a way to play against the Browns’ defense, but it will be difficult if Cleveland corrects the box.
Cleveland’s defense has given up 100 yards in each of the last two games, but the Ravens added to the problem with Lamar Jackson, and the 49ers gained 34 more yards on four carries from the 49ers’ receivers.
Indianapolis worked in the backfield with Isaiah McKenzie.
The Colts might want to try again.
5. The interception ratio between running backs Jonathan Taylor and Zach Moss was about 50-50 last week.
It will be interesting to see how the workload shifts in Taylor’s favor as the season progresses depending on how Moss plays.

Can Blake Freeland block Myles Garrett?
6.
Defensive end Myles Garrett is lined up all over the field, but Cleveland will focus on rookie right tackle Blake Freeland, who will start Braden Smith’s second game back with hip and wrist injuries.
I can focus . Garrett has already recorded 5.5 sacks and 14 quarterback hits this season and is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.
If Garrett can’t match Freeland, it could be defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, who has 2.5 sacks, five quarterback hits and 10 pressures.
7.
Cleveland’s defense has only two weaknesses.
The Browns rank 26th in the NFL in red zone offense, which has been mitigated by how hard it is to get into the red zone, and they’ve forced just four turnovers, tied for second.
In competition.
Minshew had three touchdowns last week against the opportunistic Jaguars, but that’s not his all-time profile.
All he cares about is his pocket. Minshew has 24 sacks in 26 career games.
Will Deshaun Watson take on the Colts?

8.
Cleveland quarterback Deshaun Watson is expected to return after missing the past two games with a shoulder injury.
Watson, who is considered questionable, has been more solid than stellar, completing 63.7 percent of his passes for 6.6 yards per attempt in three games against the Browns this season, but Cleveland backup P.J. Walker and Dorian Thompson.
-Robinson, each completing less than 53% of his passes.
The Indianapolis secondary ranks 23rd in the NFL in rushing yards and yards allowed per game, so Watson should get a chance to play in the passing game.

9.
The Colts’ pass rush could limit Watson’s opportunities.
Watson is averaging 5.5 yards per carry as a running back, but has been sacked 12 times in three starts, mostly because of his time with the ball.
Watson has averaged 3.05 seconds from the moment he throws the ball this season, the third-slowest time in the league behind Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts and Denver’s Russell Wilson.
Indianapolis’ pass rush has been solid this season.
The Colts have 18 sacks and have a good defensive line with a secondary pursuit unit that can work against quarterbacks who hold the ball long.
10. Browns star Amari Cooper should be the center of attention for the Indianapolis pass rushers. Cooper has 22 catches for 367 yards and a touchdown and stretches deep downfield, averaging 16.7 yards per catch.
Cooper faces a tough matchup with Colts cornerbacks JuJu Brents and Jaylon Jones.
Two young players could be vulnerable against a polished veteran.
11.
Cleveland’s running game has struggled in the first two games since losing Nick Chubb for the season.
After posting 78 and 93 yards against the Titans and Ravens, he topped 160 yards in last week’s upset win over San Francisco. With the Colts forced to play without Grover Stewart, the Browns will test Eric Johnson and Taven Bryan, as well as both running backs Jerome Ford (67 carries, 270 yards, 4.0 avg.) early and often against a veteran. Kareem Hunt.
Use it. (average) test.
22 carries, 72 yards, 3.3 avg.) See what the Indianapolis defense looks like without Stewart under center.

 

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