The Cleveland Browns have generated eight sacks on Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and Cincinnati Bengals signal-caller Andy Dalton in the first two weeks of the 2012 regular season, but they will face a unique challenge Sunday against the Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
The Bills’ offensive linemen -- left tackle Cordy Glenn, left guard Andy Levitre, center Eric Wood, right guard Kraig Urbik and right tackle Erik Pears -- have not surrendered a single sack of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick this year. Having that protection up front has allowed Fitzpatrick to complete 28 of 51 attempts for 373 yards with five touchdowns against three interceptions.
“I think their scheme is good,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “They spread the field; they get the ball out of his hands extremely well. They mix up the launch points, like we all do and he does a good job of scrambling and getting yards. Most long drives require the quarterback to do something with his feet, whether it’s gain some yards or move around in the pocket and throw the ball away. You can see with their long drives that he does that.”
In addition to leading the offense as the quarterback, Fitzpatrick has scrambled for 42 yards on six rushes on plays outside of the pocket. According to Shurmur, the Browns “practice” working against a mobile quarterback during their weekly preparations.
“There are times within the practice that we’ll call a route and we’ll just tell the quarterback to scramble,” Shurmur said. “We try to practice the things that we see in the game, as opposed to just going through the motions and fundamentals of it.”
Shurmur also said that “since it’s the same system as last year” for the Bills, the Browns have 1.5 years worth of game tapes of Fitzpatrick to study throughout the week.
Middle linebacker and defensive captain D’Qwell Jackson leads the Browns’ pass rush with the three sacks he registered on Dalton inside Paul Brown Stadium last Sunday. Safety T.J. Ward, defensive linemen
The Browns’ eight sacks have gone for a combined loss of 34 yards.
As the Browns make their final preparations for the Bills, Shurmur said “it’s very important” for the team to keep a good rotation along the defensive line. The team took steps in the offseason to add depth along the line, including the signings of Rucker and Parker, as well as the drafting of Hughes and starting defensive tackle
“I think that’s what you’re seeing now,” Shurmur said. “You’re seeing seven, eight, nine guys playing in the defensive front. I think that’s typical of most teams now that play a four-man front. It’s important that (Winn) gets in there and gets his good reps in there.”
GUARDS MAKE PROGRESS
Rookie running back
“Most teams will run some form of an inside or off-tackle zone and in both of those schemes, the guards are very important because the ball runs right behind them initially and then, goes from there,” Shurmur said. “I feel like our guys are improving, I really do. Both our guards have a very bright future.”
TAKING THE CHECKDOWN
Richardson has five catches for 41 yards and one touchdown through the first two games of his career, but it was the reception he had with seven seconds remaining in the third quarter against the Bengals that caught everyone’s attention.
Richardson caught a
“We drill that play,” Shurmur said. “It’s just get the ball to your guy and watch him work. Then, he broke a lot of tackles, so I think it’s impressive. That and the touchdown run were impressive. There were other things that I saw in the game that weren’t as obvious as those. You heard me say it’s about scoring points and there are a lot of running backs in the league that can get you up and down the field. What he displayed was the ability to get in the end zone and I think that’s important for skill players.”
SIZE UP FRONT
Second-year Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has registered three solo tackles and two more for lost yardage for a total of five through two games. A 6-foot-3, 331-pound defensive lineman from the University of Alabama, Dareus has one of the Bills’ five sacks on the season.
“He’s a guy that can pass rush, but he’s a thick guy,” Shurmur said. “He takes up a lot of space if he’s put in a situation where he’s got a two-gap. He’s going to be a tough challenge for us. I was very impressed with him in the draft a year ago and he’s one of those guys that you hope doesn’t go to a team in your division or a team that you play.”