The Adventures of Rey and Rey
Speaking of Maualuga, the pressure on him will be kicked up a level with the loss of the severely underrated Thomas Howard. With Vincent Rey looking to be teaming up with Maualuga in the nickel package, the Bengals will have an inexperienced player teamed up with an unaware player to patrol the middle of the field
This is especially troubling against the Browns’ play-action and intermediate pass dominated offensive scheme. With a West Coast offense similar to that of the Bengals, the Browns will be looking to get their receivers into space in the middle and let them make plays happen after the catch. If they can make the safeties overcompensate for the middle of the field, that opens up deep-threat Josh Gordon down the field.
Taylor Mays vs. Josh Gordon
After seeing Anquan Boldin take advantage of Taylor Mays in coverage for a long touchdown on a skinny post route, the Browns will try to match Gordon up against Mays in a similar situation. Gordon is not as talented of a wide receiver as Boldin, but he is faster and a very large man.
The shots downfield will likely come off play action, however, because as we learned last week the Browns offensive line is not in good shape.
Geno Atkins vs. the Browns’ Interior Line, Carlos Dunlap vs. Mitchell Schwartz
Carlos Dunlap returns to action this week, just in time to square off against rookie right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. Schwartz was part of the problem behind the constant pressure on Weeden last week, and Dunlap is surely salivating to give Schwartz more “welcome to the NFL” moments.
Especially deficient up front were the Browns’ guards against the pass rush. Atkins has the opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Browns’ backfield on Sunday. By collapsing the middle of the pocket he can destroy the timing of the Browns’ passing plays and let Dunlap and Michael Johnson clean up the trash.