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Scouting Report - Week 5

Posted Oct 2, 2013

A preview of the Bills-Browns game at FirstEnergy Stadium

Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Da’Norris Searcy vs. Jordan Cameron –
The Browns tight end has been on fire with 30 receptions and five TDs in four games. He’s a mismatch problem, and if Aaron Williams isn’t healthy enough to take this matchup it’ll be Searcy, who is coming off a solid game last week.

2 – Mario Williams vs. Joe Thomas – A battle of Pro Bowl caliber talents could prove entertaining in passing situations. It’s likely the Browns will leave Thomas one-on-one with Buffalo’s top pass rusher. He’s surrendered just four quarterback hits and eight hurries this season.

3 – Stevie Johnson vs. Joe Haden – It’s not clear if Cleveland will dispatch Haden to exclusively cover Johnson, but Haden has locked down the top receivers of opponents before. He would have to move inside to the slot a good deal however, knowing that’s where Johnson sees most of his work.

Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good Advantage – Third down defense –
Buffalo’s third down defense took a big step forward last week holding Baltimore to just three conversions on 16 attempts. One of the better units in the league in getting to third down, Buffalo figures to have success against the league’s 25th ranked third down offense.

Best Advantage – Pass rush -  Buffalo’s pass rush has been very effective in two of their last three games and only one other team in the league (Jax. - 15) has given up more sacks than the Browns (14) through the first four weeks.

Bills Number 1 Must
Run game –
With both of their top backs nicked up coming off a short week, Buffalo’s second-ranked running game could have trouble staying consistent. Cleveland’s fourth-ranked run defense is stout. The Bills need production with the ground game to take the pressure off rookie QB EJ Manuel, who struggled in his first career road start two weeks ago.

Scouting Eye
Hoyer who?
Stepping in for injured starter Brandon Weeden (thumb) career backup Brian Hoyer has led Cleveland to two straight victories and is being kept in the lineup by Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski. An Ohio native, Hoyer is with his fourth NFL club in five pro seasons. He hasn’t been spectacular, but his play in crunch time has been solid. On the final two scoring drives to put their last two victories away, Hoyer is 11-16 passing for 111 yards and two touchdowns.

Familiar face
He wasn’t on the Browns roster at the start of the season, but Willis McGahee was signed four days prior to Cleveland’s Week 3 game at Minnesota and two days after the club traded Trent Richardson to Indianapolis. After shaking off some rust, Buffalo’s former 2003 first-round pick believes he’s ready to pick up the production. In his three career games against the Bills, McGahee has 45 carries for 242 yards for a 5.4 yards per carry average and a pair of touchdowns.

Run stun
Anchored by nose tackle Phil Taylor, the Browns run defense ranks fourth in the league allowing just 79 yards per game. Through four games they also rank first in the league in yards per carry allowed, surrendering just 2.9 yards per rush. Cleveland is also second in the league in yards per play allowed on first down giving up just 3.47. In Week 3 they held Adrian Peterson to just 3.5 yards per carry.

Big targets, big plays
Hoyer has made use of big targets in the Cleveland passing game. Jordan Cameron (6’5” 245), Josh Gordon (6’3” 225) and Greg Little (6’2” 220) are all size mismatches in the Browns passing game and the three are largely responsible for most of the Browns big plays on offense this season. Since Gordon has returned to the lineup in Week 3, the three receiving targets have accounted for 11 of the team’s 16 plays of 15 yards or more in the past two games. Cameron also has four touchdowns in his last two games.

Pass happy
Cleveland’s offense has been prone to put the ball in the air through their first four games. The Browns are passing 65 percent of the time as they’re averaging 45 pass attempts per game. Their 183 pass plays is tied for the league lead with St. Louis, while their 80 run plays rank 27th. Having put the ball in the air more than 30 other NFL clubs, they’ve put a lot of pressure on their offensive line. That’s why Cleveland has given up the second most sacks in the league (17).

Putting them on lockdown
Browns top cornerback Joe Haden is emerging as a lockdown cover man this season. Cleveland head coach Rob Chudzinski is often assigning Haden to exclusively cover the other team’s top receiver. In Week 1 Haden held Mike Wallace to one reception. In Week 2 he held Baltimore’s Torrey Smith to only underneath receptions as he went for 85 yards on seven catches. At Minnesota in Week 3, Greg Jennings had just three catches for 43 yards, and last week he again kept a deep threat in front of him. Cincinnati’s A.J. Green managed just 51 yards on seven receptions.

Buffalo Chips
Quote of the Week
“You can go back to OTAs, minicamp, all those things and see how guys have worked. It’s important to them and when you challenge guys and keep them accountable as a leader or a teammate guys respond. They don’t go in the tank. They don’t get mad, they don’t get upset. They respond and keep working and it’s exciting to be a part of that. Knowing what we’re working towards, knowing that guys aren’t going to spit the bit and not going to quit. It’s encouraging.”
--DT Kyle Williams

Stat of the Week
The Bills lead the league in rushing attempts with 147 through the first four games (37.5 per game).

Milestones in reach
Kiko Alonso needs two interceptions to match a franchise record for rookie linebackers set by Wall of Famer Mike Stratton (6)

Scott Chandler needs four receptions for 100 in his career.

Mario Williams needs one sack for a total of 70 in his career.

Final Note
Buffalo has the most interceptions in the league with nine after four games.