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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
Here's senior editor Mike Wilkening's Week Three stock report for the Browns after their 17-16 win vs. Miami on Sunday:
DT Ahtyba Rubin — He was outstanding vs. the Dolphins, notching nine tackles and 1½ sacks. He already has established a career-high for sacks in a season (2½) and is on pace for about 85 tackles, which also would best his career-high of 82 tackles, set in his standout 2010 campaign. Yes, Rubin is fitting in very well in Dick Jauron's 4-3 scheme.
CB Joe Haden — Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall, covered closely by Haden throughout Sunday's game, had just four catches for 43 yards (on seven targets). Haden has been the AFC North's best cornerback through three games. Overall, Cleveland has allowed the third-fewest passing yards in the NFL through Sunday.
The defense as a whole — The Browns got at least one above-average game from a player at each position group. The defensive line was very good. In addition to Rubin, DT Phil Taylor had seven tackles and a sack. DEs Jayme Mitchell and Jabaal Sheard provided pressure off the edges. MLB D'Qwell Jackson had another productive day (team-high 11 tackles). And Haden continues to play very well.
RB Montario Hardesty — When RB Peyton Hillis (illness) was a game-day scratch, Hardesty stepped into the lineup and played well, rushing for 14-67 and catching 3-19. Said QB Colt McCoy: "Montario played great. We thought Peyton was going early, and then when Peyton couldn't make it, that is hard on a guy. I've been in that situation, too, in a preseason game. To have Montario step up and play like he did — he hadn't gotten all of the reps this week — it shows a lot about him, and I'll be honest with you, I fed off him today. He was fired up in the huddle, saying 'Give me the ball.' He made some real nice cuts in the hole. He was huge for us."
The offense in pressure situations — Overall, McCoy wasn't sharp in Week Three, but he played his best on the Browns' game-winning drive. Credit McCoy and the Cleveland attack for being better than Miami's defense when it counted most.
Special-teams play — The Browns really missed not having Joshua Cribbs (groin) on returns. Also, their punt coverage (28 return yards allowed in two returns) needs to be better. Finally, P Brad Maynard wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in his Cleveland debut.
The offense's play in the first quarter — The Browns have been outscored 20-0 in the first 15 minutes this season and have yet to take the first lead of the game.
CB Sheldon Brown — He struggled in coverage vs. Dolphins WR Brian Hartline with Miami looking away from going to WR Brandon Marshall as much as it might have with CB Joe Haden covering Marshall well.
McCoy's accuracy and decision making — In 2-of-3 starts, he has failed to complete 50 percent of his passes. Though he has been sacked only three times this season, he has not fared well when pressured, either.