Browns' O-line must bounce back

Posted Oct. 13, 2010 @ 11:04 a.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

Every Wednesday, we'll identity one Browns player, coach, position group or executive under the most pressure in the coming week. This week, the offensive line is under focus.

There will be a lot of discussion of the Browns' quarterback situation as the team prepares to play the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Sunday. If Cleveland is to have to start either rookie Colt McCoy or veteran backup Brett Ratliff, neither of whom has thrown an NFL pass, it will be far from an ideal situation. 

And matters could get very tough if the offensive line doesn't play better than it did in the Week Five loss to Atlanta. The Browns surrendered three sacks, with Falcons DE John Abraham twice beating OLT Joe Thomas to take down Seneca Wallace. Cleveland also got little going in the running game, rushing for just 48 yards on 20 carries (2.4 ypc). 

The Browns will be challenged to string together drives vs. Pittsburgh no matter the quarterback. The Steelers are stout vs. the run and know the Browns used a run-heavy attack (37 carries vs. 20 pass plays) to score a 13-6 upset last December, so expect Pittsburgh to do what it can to entice Cleveland into throwing. 

This may be Cleveland O-line's sternest test all season. QBs Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace have ankle injuries; should either or both play, their mobility could be compromised. If McCoy and/or Ratliff play, the line's challenge may be even greater, given the inexperience of both passers. This is a tough spot for a good offensive line looking to rebound after something of a down game vs. the Falcons.