CLEVELAND -- After back-to-back losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium and against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium, the Cleveland Browns take to the road once more this Sunday for a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
And the Browns will play a Colts team very much in a similar situation, having lost their first two games of the season and working to find consistency with a new quarterback at the helm of the offense.
Here are five things the Browns need in order to beat the Colts and claim their first win of the season:
STRONG QUARTERBACK PLAY
After completing 20 of his 30 attempts with one passing touchdown and another rushing score in a 21-18 loss to the Steelers in the regular-season opener, Kizer went six of 11 with an interception before being pulled from the loss at Baltimore because of a migraine.
Following his return to the game on the second drive of the third quarter, Kizer completed nine of his final 20 throws, but had two interceptions. He finished his second NFL start 15 of 31 for 182 yards and one touchdown against three interceptions, as well as a lost fumble.
Kizer took seven sacks from the Steelers in his NFL debut and another two in a loss at Baltimore.
The Browns raised plenty of eyebrows around the National Football League when they waived two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden instead of trading the eighth-year professional prior to the fourth preseason game in late August.
Although the Browns faced questions, they have gotten plenty of production from veteran Jason McCourty.
While McCourty is considered an elder statesman by NFL cornerback standards, the ninth-year defender registered seven total tackles, a forced fumble and an interception in the team’s first two games of the season.
All throughout the offseason program and in training camp, the Browns talked about the importance of being a running team to set up passes down the field, but over the first two weeks of the season, it has been tough sledding for the backs.
The Browns have rushed for just 150 yards on 46 carries, an average of 3.3 yards per attempt.
No. 1 running back Isaiah Crowell has totaled only 70 yards on 27 carries (2.6 yards per rush), while Kizer, the Browns’ second-leading rusher, has gained 43 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries.
PRESSURE JACOBY BRISSETT
With the news that multi-time Pro Bowl quarterback Andrew Luck would miss time because of shoulder issues, the Colts acquired quarterback Jacoby Brissett in a trade with the New England Patriots prior to the start of the 2017 regular season.
As such, the Colts (0-2) have been playing catch-up in terms of getting Brissett ready to lead the team to success. In last week’s 16-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Brissett completed just 20 of his 37 attempts (54.1 percent) for 216 yards with one interception and a fumble, and was sacked four times for 26 lost yards.
BRITT, WRS TO ANSWER COACH’S CHALLENGE
Wide receiver Kenny Britt has had a rough introduction to the Browns.
A 1,000-yard receiver with the Los Angeles Rams in 2016, Britt has just two catches for 15 yards with multiple drops and penalties in key situations over the first two games of the year.
As such, Britt was one of many players challenged by Browns coach Hue Jackson to raise their levels of play after it was learned that Corey Coleman would be out of the lineup for an extended period of time because of surgery to repair a broken bone in his right hand, and that message was received, loud and clear.
“We all need to come together to pick up the slack because we know how important he is to this offense and to this receiver room,” Britt said. “We all just have to band together and be operating as one unit.
“Doing the right things. Just doing all of the small things, and that is what has been killing us the last two weeks -- the details, the days, finishing on certain plays and things like that. That is something that we have been doing since OTAs and camp. We took a step back from that, and we need to just get back.”
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