View Full Version : Steelers, quarterback in fine form at start of season

09-10-2008, 01:19 AM
Steelers, quarterback in fine form at start of season

Browns' defense in need of fast fix

By George M. Thomas
Beacon Journal sports writer

POSTED: 08:34 p.m. EDT, Sep 09, 2008

BEREA: At times Sunday, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo had enough time in the pocket to order dinner and eat it. He didn't have to worry whether receivers would be open. He just had to wait for when they freed themselves from coverage by defensive backs.

The Browns' defense paid for its lack of a pass rush to the tune of Romo completing 24-of-32 passes for 320 yards and a touchdown. The result: a 28-10 loss for the Browns.

''I think it was pretty good. On some of the passes, short passes, they were quick throws. We were able to apply pressure and get to him a couple times to alter a couple of throws,'' linebacker Kamerion Wimbley said Monday. ''At one point me and Willie (McGinest) hit him. That's when he busted up his chin a little bit. Overall, I think it was a pretty good night.''

The numbers tell a different story.

No team can give up that kind of yardage and expect to win consistently. So where was the rush against Romo?

Given the Browns' 3-4 defense and the expectation that the rush will come from outside linebackers, it was often down the field in coverage in Wimbley's case.

''Early on, we were only rushing three and putting more guys in coverage. In the second half, we started rushing more guys. Now then, the question becomes, why did you only rush three?'' Browns coach Romeo Crennel said. ''You rush three to get more guys in coverage because they have some weapons that you have to cover, and even with that those weapons were pretty productive.''

The repair work needs to be fast for the defense: the Pittsburgh Steelers arrive in Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday night for a prime-timegame.

It's unlikely that the Ben Roethlisberger-led Steelers will be a pushover. In fact, the Steelers looked to be in midseason form, walloping the Houston Texans 38-17 in their opener.

Roethlisberger completed 13-of-14 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns. With Roethlisberger, however, it never has been about his ability to put upnumbers.

He plays traffic cop in the Steelers' offense, which has always been built around a rock-solid running game, but that doesn't mean he doesn't possess the ability to beat you with his arm. At 6-foot-5 and 241 pounds, Big Ben can be a load.

On Monday, Crennel seemed resigned that his defense, with its reconstructed line courtesy of the arrival of Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams, will have its share of growing pains. Not only are Rogers and Williams, who is learning a new position, new additions, the Browns have two second-year corners in the defensive backfield in Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald. ''We can rush more guys. Everybody's been talking about our secondary and how we're not good enough on the back end,'' Crennel said. ''If you put more guys in the rush, and they don't get there, you expose those guys in the back end a little bit more. ''Now it becomes a chess match; you have to try to pick and choose your time when you want to rush more.'' They'll need to select that time on Sunday night against the Steelers, who made running their offense look all too easy this past weekend.It is too early in the season for must-win games, but given the winless preseason and the spanking by the Cowboys, it is close to that for the Browns. ''After the loss, we look forward to playing the Steelers and hopefully being able to redeem ourselves, start strong and stay strong throughout the game,'' Wimbley said. ''Hopefully we can give a better showing in the second round.'' Moves The Browns signed recently waived wide receiver Paul Hubbard, their sixth-round choice from this year, to the practice squad. They also signed undrafted free-agent running back Allen Patrick and waived running back Omar Cuff to make room.
George M. Thomas can be reached at sportswriterabj@sbcglobal.net. Read his blog at http://www.ohiomm.com/blogs/sportsblitz/.