Dolphins 23, Browns 10
Strategy: With a new head coach in Rob Chudzinski and new coordinators in Norv Turner and Ray Horton, the Browns will look a little different than they did a year ago. Offensively, the Browns used a variety of formations and their most common groupings were three-receiver sets and sets with two wide receivers and two tight ends. They passed often, throwing 53 times on 66 plays, in part because their running game was ineffective. Defensively, the Browns run a base 3-4. Horton likes to blitz, though, and sent five or more pass rushes on about half the plays.
Personnel: The Browns have a handful of former Ravens, including pass rusher Paul Kruger, offensive lineman Oniel Cousins, kicker Billy Cundiff and kick returner Bobby Rainey. Kruger had a sack in his first game with the Browns. His would-be wingman, first-round pick Barkevious Mingo, did not play due to an injury and might not suit up this Sunday. The Browns were also without top wide-out Josh Gordon, who is suspended until Week 3. Athletic tight end Jordan Cameron is a player to watch.
What went right: The defense played well, better than the score would indicate. The offense couldn't sustain drives — 1-for-14 on third down — and gave the Dolphins good field position on a few drives, but the defense smothered Miami's running game by setting the edge and plugging holes. The Browns also generated good pressure when they sent four-man rushes at quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Browns had four sacks and held the Dolphins to 20 rushing yards. Offensively, there was not much to like other than impressive performances by Cameron, who had nine catches for 108 yards and their lone touchdown, and slot receiver Devone Bess.
What went wrong: Quarterback Brandon Weeden threw three first-half interceptions, though two deflected off one of his receivers, who struggled with drops as a unit. Their offensive line couldn't establish the running game and Trent Richardson, who was understandably indecisive, rarely got to the second level. The line might have been worse at pass protection. Weeden was sacked six times and harassed all day, particularly by Pro Bowl pass rusher Cameron Wake, who had 2.5 sacks and spent most of the game running around or through the right tackle. Penalties were also an issue. Cousins had four, including a holding penalty that negated a late touchdown. One complaint about the defense is that Tannehill often picked the Browns apart when they blitzed.
Turning point: Despite all their miscues on offense, the Browns actually led, 7-6, at the half. In the third quarter, Tannehill took a shot downfield to speedy wide-out Mike Wallace but threw the ball over his head. Safety T.J. Ward got his hands on it in the end zone, but couldn't hang on for the interception. Three plays later, Tannehill connected with wide receiver Brian Hartline for a 34-yard touchdown. The Browns fell behind, 13-7, and did not seriously threaten from there.
X-factor: Joe Haden, one of the better cover cornerbacks in the game, limited Wallace to just one catch for 15 yards on five targets, though Wallace did get behind Haden of a couple of plays. Haden will likely draw the assignment of Torrey Smith on Sunday. Smith has had success against the Browns in the past, but if Haden can limit the damage, the Browns will probably like their odds against the other Ravens receivers.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun