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Cleveland Browns: Injury to Jacoby Jones Creates Huge Mismatch for Browns Secondary
Nobody ever likes to see injuries in the NFL, regardless of team preference, but for the Baltimore Ravens it may end up being a blessing in disguise. The reason for that is 6’5″ and 215-pound receiver, Marlon Brown, now gets a chance to showcase his unique skill-set on the main stage with Jacoby Jones on the shelf for 4-6 weeks.
The Baltimore Ravens offense struggled to get much going through the air in their 27-49 loss to the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos. A mere 15 completions left Joe Flacco‘s hand and hit wide receivers, with four of them going to Brown. The other completions went to tight ends Dallas Clark and Ed Dickson, running back Ray Rice and full back Vonta Leach. The Ravens seemed to have no resemblance to their 2012 form that featured tall targets like Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta, and most of their plays involved check-downs and screen passes.
With Brown starting opposite of Torrey Smith, it now adds another dimension to their passing game. With Smith and Jones on the outside, the differences in skill-sets were miniscule, as both players are speedy deep threats. Brown, on the other hand, has the ability to use his height and frame to work the middle of the field while “going up and getting it” against shorter cornerbacks.
What that could spell is bad news for the Cleveland Browns. With the Browns fielding a trio of 5’9″ cornerbacks at the CB2 position, it immediately poses an eight inch height mismatch between Brown and either Buster Skrine, Chris Owens or Leon McFadden. Last week against Miami’s 6’2″ receiver, Brian Hartline, the Browns were gashed for nine receptions, 114 yards and a touchdown. This week, they will have their hands full against the much taller, Brown.
Against the Denver Broncos, Brown caught four passes from the WR3 spot, resulting in 65 yards and a touchdown. With his opening game nerves out of the way and working out of the No. 2 receiver spot, he could have an even bigger game this week. Now that you’re worried, how do the Cleveland Browns stop him?
Haden will likely be put on an island, so to speak, with Smith. Against the Miami Dolphins, Haden held No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace to just one catch for 15 yards, and it is expected that he will have the same type of task on Sunday against Baltimore. In theory, with Smith locked down, the Browns can use a safety over the top on Brown to make up for the mismatch.
Unfortunately, due to a shoulder injury, it looks like Cleveland’s top safety, T.J. Ward, could miss action in Week 2. In his place will likely be Josh Aubrey. To stop the Ravens’ passing attack, the Browns will need to blitz Flacco early and often. If they can get him out of rhythm, the secondary can take advantage of errant throws and poor decisions, and keep the damage of Smith and Brown to a minimum.
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