Among the conclusions Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur has drawn from watching the game film of the Browns’ next opponent, the New York Giants, is that the entire team takes its cues from veteran quarterback Eli Manning.
“It’s a big challenge and there’s games where he gets hot,” Shurmur said of Manning. “He gets real hot. I was involved in over 20 of these games when I was in Philadelphia and I watched that happen a lot of times and he can be dangerous.
“We’ve faced outstanding quarterbacks and we’re going to face outstanding quarterbacks most every game we play. Each guy, within their skill set, presents different threats to the defense and we’ve got to make sure we do a good job of trying to get pressure on him. We’ve got to disrupt any quarterback -- Eli’s no different -- and then, we’ve got to challenge the receivers.”
Manning has completed 103 of 160 attempts for 1,320 yards and seven touchdowns against four interceptions through the first four weeks of the season.
Third-year receiver Victor Cruz and University of Akron product Domenik Hixon have been two of Manning’s favorite targets thus far this year. Cruz has gained 388 yards and scored two touchdowns -- including an 80-yarder -- on 32 catches, while Hixon has 10 receptions for 181 yards.
In the Sunday night loss to the Eagles, Hixon caught six passes for a game-high 114 yards, while Cruz hauled in nine receptions for 109 yards and one touchdown.
Shurmur said Manning’s ability to eliminate distractions has allowed him to develop as an NFL quarterback.
“Whether it’s coaches or players, it’s the resiliency that they display,” Shurmur said. “He’s pretty resilient. He must have a way where he shuts out what people think and he just goes and plays. I have a great deal of respect for coaches and players that have found a way to win championships and he’s done that twice. I don’t read what they say about them. All I can do is watch what he does on tape and see the way his team wins.
“He, in his own mind, knows he can lead his team to victory. When he steps in the huddle, the other guys believe it. They find a way to get it done.”
PREPARING THE SECONDARY
Through the first four weeks of the season, the Browns have faced a mix of pocket passers and quarterbacks who could make plays outside of the tackles when their protections broke down around them.
They have lined up against Philadelphia’s Michael Vick, Andy Dalton of Cincinnati, Buffalo’s Ryan Fitzpatrick and Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens and have done so mostly with a secondary not at 100 percent.
With Joe Haden missing the last three games due to a league-mandated suspension and
“We’re dealing with a couple of different situations with the secondary,” Shurmur said. “We’ve played different types of teams, some that play in a situation where we’re playing three corners and then, we’ve played a couple teams that are more base. What it’s given us is an opportunity to see some of these other guys compete for a full game and then, have to play at a high level.
“We’ve learned a great deal about the guys on our roster. I think our guys have been forced to adjust in a lot of ways and I’m pleased at the way they compete. Our guys fight hard. Now, they’ve just got to make sure we play better.”
RUNNING THE BALL
Rookie running back
“We all know that he started the year and was less than 100 percent,” Shurmur said. “I think he’s at a place physically where he needs to be and the rush-per-carry thing, we’ll talk about that as we go along. I do think that we’ve got a feel for what types of runs he’s good at. The one thing I will say about Trent is, it’s about points and he finds a way to get in the end zone and that’s what’s important.”
GAME CAPTAIN NAMED
Fifth-year defensive lineman
Rubin was nominated to be and named the team’s fourth game captain for Sunday’s contest at the Giants.
“It’s another good choice,” Shurmur said. “He’s kind of a quiet, dependable guy, leads by example.”