Z Files: 5 Things to Watch in Browns vs. Bengals

Z Files: 5 Things to Watch in Browns vs. Bengals
Z Files (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - 1. Let Johnny Be Johnny
     That doesn't mean Manziel should go out there and 'wing it', and turn this game into a backyard brawl. NFL defenses are too smart, and too quick, for that to last long. But it's time for offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and quarterbacks coach Kevin O'Connell to unleash Johnny. He isn't Josh McCown, and he shouldn't be coached like Josh McCown. Manziel brings a completely different skill set to the table. Take advantage of it. The last time he revved up the engine, in Week 2 against the Titans, the coaches put a harness on him in the second half and it almost cost them. Until Johnny bailed them out in the fourth. Turn him loose for four quarters this time.

2.  Prime-Time Players
      The Browns know what critics are saying about them. They know what the national perception is. And they have a chance to change that, at least temporarily, on the big stage. They did just that a year ago when they jumped on the Bengals early and often on Thursday Night Football, forcing four turnovers, and turning it into a 24-3 rout. That proved once again that Andy Dalton, who went 10-of-33 and threw three interceptions, isn't a prime-time player. But the Browns were that night. And can be again.

3.  Ride the Duke
      I've railed about this all week. They threw twice to Duke Johnson last Sunday. The first play went for 52 yards, the second one 16. And then they failed to throw to him again. That's called 'outsmarting yourself', as though the Browns have better options that the other guys aren't expecting. Stick with what works. Duke Johnson makes something happen almost every time he touches the football. Enough of the running back rotation. Ride the rookie from "The U".

4.  Get Defensive
       That's not going to be easy. The Bengals are the third-highest scoring team in the league, behind the Patriots and Cardinals, and the Cardinals, as we know, just d ropped 34 on us last Sunday. Now we're without Donte Whitner and Joe Haden, and Haden has had epic games against Bengals wideout A.J. Green, who's on pace for 1500 yards this season. So what can the Browns do?  Rediscover their pass rush, and get to Dalton, who's been sacked just nine times this season. If not, it's going to be a very long night.

5.  Oh-So-Special Teams
        Travis Benjamin, this is your wake-up call. We know you're excited that Johnny's back in the lineup, because you're his go-to-guy, deep. But it's time to take a punt back to the house. This is the night to do it. You did it against the Titans, when you put on a career performance with three TD's. That was your day. And Johnny's day. Now, let's make this your night.

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