Browns/Jaguars: 4 Keys To Victory Week 14

December 9, 2023

Andy Billman Tony Camino

Cleveland Browns vs Jacksonville Jaguars Matchups to Watch:

1 – QB Browns vs. QB Jaguars

Andy –

I assume the match-up will be Joe Flacco for the Browns and Trevor Lawrence for the Jaguars, and this match-up is pretty even because of Lawrence’s injury and the threat of bad weather.

Flacco should play better with another game under his belt. and he has played in bad weather in his career, which should be an advantage for Flacco with his strong arm.

Lawrence is a tough quarterback. Even with his injury to his ankle, he has shown he can overcome an injury quickly, so I think he will be fine for Sunday.

I see the difference in this match-up: who will avoid the big interception and or turnover, and the one who keeps the ball on their side.

Tony –

Joe Flacco is likely starting for the Browns, which is probably the right move for the team going forward. Dorian Thompson-Robinson wouldn’t be a bad choice either, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have some packages to get him involved in short yardages and the red zone. If Flacco can play at the same level as a week ago and make a few fewer bad decisions, the offense should be okay.

Trevor Lawrence is likely the starter, but he’s banged up, as evidenced by the Jaguars elevating quarterback Nathan Rourke to the active roster. Lawrence will face mobility limitations if he goes, but he’s dealt with injuries well before. He won’t be 100%, but the Jags still have the quarterback advantage if Lawrence can play.

2 – DL Browns vs. OL Jaguars

Tony –

Since Deshaun Watson went down, the Browns’ defensive line has been the key to their success and is a significant reason why they went 0-2 on the West Coast swing. Although Myles Garrett is seemingly not at 100%, the defensive line has to apply more consistent pressure on the quarterback going forward. This should be easier with a healthy secondary, as the past two veteran quarterbacks have been releasing the ball very quickly.

The Jaguars’ offensive line is very beat up and not a particularly strong unit anyway. The Browns need to dominate the line of scrimmage, as we’ve seen them do so often this year. The defense has consistently started fast in home games, and they will need to have a truly dominant performance starting up front.

Andy –

It is time for the Browns defensive line to attack on Sunday.  They are playing an average offensive line and banged up; they must take advantage of the match-up.  Myles Garrett did not look like himself in LA against the Rams, and Za’Darius Smith needs to step up to help. Smith has not made the type of impact on the season as was expected. 

This should be a favorable match-up for the Browns at home.

3 – WR Browns vs. Secondary Jaguars

Andy –

Let’s point out that both groups have injuries, bringing a lot of depth questions.  The Browns got some good news as Amari Cooper was able to participate in limited practice on Friday and is now questionable for Sunday.  The Browns must get Elijah Moore to continue his upward trend in production, and hopefully, Marquis Goodwin can impact the game with his speed.

The Jaguars have three cornerbacks out with injuries in this game, on top of the fact they are an average pass defense.  The Browns will have an opportunity to get the passing game going even with questions at wide receiver.

Tony –

Amari Cooper is going to play after clearing concussion protocol, and Marquise Goodwin is back from his concussion, so the Browns have plenty of healthy bodies in the receiver room for the first time in a while. Elijah Moore had a strong showing with Flacco last week, and he should continue to have an impact if the Browns continue to use him on the outside as a route runner.

The Jaguars’ defensive backs aren’t particularly strong outside of Darious Williams, and the Browns’ receivers should be able to win and create opportunities downfield. With Dawand Jones out, the receivers cannot afford for plays to take forever to develop and need to win quickly on their routes to allow the ball to come out fast. Most importantly, drops have to be cleaned up if they want to get back on the winning track.

4 – Browns coaches vs. Jaguars coaches

Tony –

The defense has struggled against smart coaches and veteran quarterbacks who use the aggressiveness of the Browns’ defensive line against them. Because they emphasize playing downhill and getting in the backfield, play-action boots, read options and jet sweeps have been effective against the Browns. Getting Ward back would help conceal many issues and allow the pressure to get home quicker, but the defensive scheme has to adjust as well.

Kevin Stefanski seems to thrive with an under-center, pocket-passer at quarterback like Flacco, and another game together should allow for a more well-oiled machine. Hopefully, the Browns can find success running the ball, and they can lean on the running game, but the passing game should be able to build on a strong debut by Flacco regardless.

Andy –

It’s a big game for the Cleveland coaching staff, as you don’t want to let this season slip away.  They have had a tough stretch of good coaches in the past four games going up against the Ravens, Steelers, Broncos, and Rams; all four coaches have won a Super Bowl, and so has Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski has dealt with a lot regarding injuries to key players on both sides of the ball, especially on offense.  He must make adjustments in-game and try to stay ahead of the defense.  Also, establishing the run would go a long way on a wet, windy day.

Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz must pressure Lawrence to test that ankle and force some turnovers at home.

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