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The Winning Mix

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The Winning Mix: 3 keys to a victory over the Dolphins

Browns look to build on big win over the Bengals with their second consecutive victory in Miami


The Browns took care of business with a 32-13 win over the Bengals on Monday Night Football in Week 8 to take some positive momentum into the midseason bye week.  

Now, it's critical to start the second half with a win on the road against the very tough 6-3 Miami Dolphins. who have won three straight games under new head coach Mike McDaniel. The Dolphins have been undefeated this year (6-0) in games started and finished by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, so the Browns will have to play a complete game to get this important victory.

1. Take Care of the Football – No Turnovers

I'm putting this one at the top of the list, because frankly this team has proven that it's the most important factor in determining its ability to win in 2022. The Browns are 11-2 under Kevin Stefanski all-time when they don't commit a single turnover, and they're 2-0 this year with a clean sheet. The Browns finally won a game in which they committed a turnover, but they still sit at 1-5 in such games this season. When you're playing an excellent offense like Miami, you must take care of the ball, score when you have it and not give them any extra possessions or short fields.

Check out photos of players and coaches working to prepare for the teams regular season game against the Miami Dolphins

2. Sack, Hit, and Disrupt Tua

Against Cincinnati, the Browns pressure absolutely impacted Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense as they limited them to one of their worst performances of the season despite coming in red hot. The Browns sacked Burrow five times, hit him seven times and forced him into two turnovers. That formula will be critical to follow again this week against the NFL's leader in passer rating, yards per attempt, yards per completion, third down passer rating and passing touchdown percentage. In other words, Tua has been spectacular this season, and working from a clean pocket while getting the ball out quickly has bee one of the biggest reasons why.

From a clean pocket, Tua is completing nearly 75 percent of his passes, averaging 9.6 yards per attempt, has thrown 14 touchdowns and has a quarterback rating of 124. When you're able to get pressure on Tua, those numbers drop to 53 percent, 7.2 yards per attempt, one touchdown and a rating of 84.5. This year Tua has only been pressured on 14.7 percent of his dropbacks, the lowest rate in the NFL. With questions at right tackle and left guard, the Browns need to once again win their one on one rushes and scheme up blitzes to get home. Last week, Joe Woods had a masterful plan to do just that and the Browns executed it perfectly. We need a repeat performance this week, and keep in mind that even if the Browns don't get home due to the ball coming out so quickly, they can be disruptive just by getting their hands up — we saw Myles tip a pass that led to an A.J. Green interception on the opening drive on Monday Night.

3. Limit the Big Plays

In the words of the legendary Dan Patrick, "you can't stop them, you can only hope to contain them." That is absolutely true of the Dolphins dynamic duo at wide receiver, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Hill leads the NFL with 76 receptions and 1,104 yards (no, that is not a misprint, and yes, it is in NFL record through nine games) and is on pace to be the first player to break the 2,000-yard barrier in a single season. Waddle is fifth in the NFL with 812 yards, fourth with six touchdowns and his 17.3 yards per catch is the highest figure amongst the top 30 receivers in yardage this year. They are on pace for 3,619 yards together this year, which would shatter the record for a duo in a single season by about … 500 yards.

When it comes to big plays, they are as dangerous as it gets. Hill leads the league with 30 receptions of 15-plus yards, while Waddle is second with 22. They are the only two players in the league with 600-plus receiving yards on passes of more than 10 yards in the air, so they make plays at every level of the field. In fact, Hill is the league's most dangerous vertical threat, totaling 16 receptions of 50-plus yards since 2016, most in the league.

You will not eliminate these two from the game, but the Browns must make sure they keep them in front of them, tackle well (as they did against Cincinnati), and limit the explosive plays from a very explosive offense.

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