New Orleans Saints’ Post Game Opposition Intel: Cleveland Browns


Sep 14, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine shakes hands with New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton after defeating the Saints 26-24 at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve paired up with Jared Mueller, managing editor of Dawg Pound Daily, for an encore article after the Cleveland Browns defeated the New Orleans Saints 26-24 on Sunday. I asked him several questions around the Browns victory.

You can see my responses and thoughts in Dawg Pound Daily’s article, a Browns Win From A Saints Perspective.

New Orleans Saints’ Post Game Opposition Intel: Cleveland Browns

1. What was it about the Browns defensive play calling that allowed them to completely disrupt the Saints’ passing attack?

Primarily it was getting pressure with 4 players, allowing them to play 7 in coverage. Mike Pettine was able to run a man/zone combination behind which created havoc most of the time for Brees. Generally defenses are either in man or zone but with Joe Haden having Pettine’s full confidence, as well as veterans Donte Whitner and Karlos Dansby, Pettine is able to do creative things. His defense is literally setup where any player could have any responsibility but with easy repeatable behavior. From the same formation Dansby could blitz, be in man or drop into zone while Paul Kruger, Whitner, etc has the exact same possible things to do. Very flexible defense.

2. Despite missing Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, the Browns receivers were able to have success. Andrew Hawkins has now had two solid games, what does he mean to the team when Gordon eventually comes back?

Gordon’s return will be huge because of what he does for the rest of the receivers. I caution Browns fans that Gordon won’t be force-fed in Kyle Shanahan’s system so his number may not be as inflated. Yet his presence opens up everything for the Browns. He also gives Brian Hoyer someone he can be confident in will either catch a ball or make sure it isn’t intercepted. Moving Miles Austin to the #2 spot and Hawkins to 3 is perfect complement. Cameron isn’t Jimmy Graham but he provides a similarly versatile threat as well.

3. That’s two games that teams have found success rushing the ball on the Browns, is there a big cause for concern there?

It isn’t as big of a concern as one would think. Especially against the Saints the Browns wanted to keep Drew Brees in control and was willing to allow the running game to be controlled by fewer players. While the run game was successful it didn’t open up the passing game the way Brees and Sean Payton would have liked. That is giving in to the lesser of two evils. The Browns want to force teams to beat them in the run game because it allows the game to be slowed down to their pace.

4. The Browns went for it twice on fourth down and converted. Was this more of a gamble by Mike Pettine, or just a belief in his team?

Mostly a belief in his team. Pettine truly believes the Browns are good. The biggest thing that said to the team and the fans was that Pettine saw his team as equals with the Saints. That was even true in deferring the kickoff. Pettine believes with their defense, run game, mistake free Brian Hoyer and Shanahan calling plays the team can compete with anyone. He looks to be correct so far.

5. Some might say the Browns fans are more shocked today than the Saints, what are your thoughts on a huge win?

I think that is somewhat accurate based on how the game went. The Browns fans are used to “Same Old Browns” when things start to go bad. Every year we find ways to lose these type of games. Instead the opposite happened. In the end the Browns made all the big plays and got the big stops. It clearly feels like a different team. I would have felt similar had the field goal missed, only less happy. The process is right and the Browns are clearly building, and maybe built, to compete long-term in the NFL.

Give the Browns credit, they did what they needed to earn a victory.