The Buffalo Bills are coming to Cleveland led by an energetic young quarterback in rookie E.J. Manuel, and an aggressive, opportunistic defense that has set the tempo in their victories over the Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens.
In the 24-23 win over Carolina, it was the pass rush that buoyed their efforts as defensive end Mario Williams set a career high and team record with 4.5 sacks on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Two weeks later, it was the secondary that registered five interceptions on the reigning Super Bowl MVP, Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, in a 23-20 win.
“The challenge every week is a new defense, a new scheme,” Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. “We’re going from playing an even front team to playing a 34 defense, and Buffalo’s playing at a real high level right now.
“They were really impressive against Baltimore last week. We all know what Flacco did on his way to the Super Bowl and in that stretch, how many touchdowns he threw. I know he threw no interceptions. When you pick him off five times, it gets your attention.”
Turner feels the best way to neutralize both the pass rush and ball-hawking of the Bills is by having a clear direction and protecting quarterback
After throwing three interceptions at Minnesota in his second career NFL start, Hoyer did not turn the ball over against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“Off a short week and trying to cram everything into this and make sure we don’t put ourselves in that position, Brian’s going to have to be real sharp, and we’re going to have to be real sharp with our protections,” Turner said. “It’s a little different style defense, and they play a lot of man-type schemes. Your receivers are going to have to work hard to get open, and Brian’s got to make good decisions.”
With Williams rushing Hoyer from the edge, Turner is counting on solid performances from six-time Pro Bowl left tackle