Tale Of The Tape: Detroit Lions At Cleveland Browns
- QuarterbackThere was a noticeable lack of efficiency and effort from the Lions’ offense in their Week Five loss at Green Bay. That’s got to be troubling for quarterback Matthew Stafford, who simply can’t do it by himself. While he has a quick release and a strong arm, his execution is just decent and if he doesn’t have Calvin Johnson (knee) and the running game isn’t working, Stafford is just ordinary.The Browns had apparently found a legitimate quarterback in Brandon Hoyer, but his Cinderella story ended when he suffered a season-ending knee injury vs. the Bills in Week Five. That means the Browns turn once again to Brandon Weeden, who can perform adequately as long as he gets decent blocking.
- OffenseThe Lions will have big problems as long as Johnson continues to miss games. Johnson has size, speed, great hands and the ability to overpower nearly any defensive back in the league. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew is stepping up his game as he has improved hands and can usually get open. Running back Reggie Bush is a brilliant athlete who doesn’t always play hard.The Browns liked what they saw from Willis McGahee in their Week Five win over the Browns. He carried the ball 26 times, ran hard on every play and he did not get hurt or dinged up. Josh Gordon is a solid wide receiver who knows how to get open and can also catch the big pass downfield. Tight end Jordan Cameron is a bona fide red zone weapon.
- DefenseDetroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is a game-changing stud in the middle of the defensive line and Nick Fairley is nearly as good. Outside linebacker DeAndre Levy was one of the few Lions to bring it against the Packers and he finished with 14 tackles. Stephen Tulloch is a dependable middle linebacker who has excellent range.The Browns have been a hard-hitting and enthusiastic defensive team since the start of the season. Much of their success is based on their team speed and their solid fundamentals. Take a good look at defensive end Ahtyba Rubin as perhaps the most unsung player in the league. He had 8 tackles and 1.0 sack in the Week Five win over Buffalo. Buster Skrine is a fine cover corner.
- Special TeamsThe Lions have been ordinary in their kickoff and punt coverage, but Micheal Spurlock is a solid return specialist. Placekicker David Akers has made his last five FG attempts and is regaining his confidence. Sam Martin had a huge day against Green Bay, averaging 51.8 yards on six punts.The Browns have become one of the worst coverage teams in the league. Their coverage units lack dependability and don’t always stay in their lanes. Travis Benjamin shocked the Bills with a 79-yard TD return. Billy Cundiff is an ordinary placekicker.
The Lions remain an inconsistent team under head coach Jim Schwartz. While their every-other-game personality would indicate a good game this week, the hungry and improving Browns may not be willing to oblige them. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor