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2020 Opponent Scouting Report: Browns Special Teams, Final Thoughts and Predictions

Kevin Stefanski Introductory Press Conference Photo by: 2020 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Overview

On October 11th, 2020 the Indianapolis Colts will travel east to take on the Cleveland Browns In this Week 5 match-up, I sought to understand our opponent and get a better idea of how they may attack our Colts.

Being a fan of the Browns is about the most difficult thing someone could willingly put themselves through. Their list of draft busts is prolific. Their list of fired coaches, amazing. Their list of starting quarterbacks, unparalleled. The only thing Browns fans really understand is disappointment. They hope that they’re on the right track with yet another first year head coach at the helm. If a Browns fan “burns” the Colts with a Trent Richardson joke, let them. That trade was their Super Bowl.

Let’s see what we can expect in week five.


Special Teams


Kicker:

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Cody Parkey has had an interesting career. Starting off in Philadelphia Parkey made the Pro Bowl his rookie year in 2014, then played three games for the Eagles in 2015 before bouncing around to the Browns, Dolphins, Bears, Titans and now back again for his second stint with the Browns. For his career he has hit nearly 85% of his kicks, he isn’t a bad kicker though he has missed eight extra point attempts in his career.

He’s really not a bad kicker but he has had some rough moments and Bears fans no doubt have an axe to grind.

It’s possible Parkey has put this miss behind him and he’s better for having gone through it. It’s possible that in future games, with the game on the line and he’s called on to go out and win it for his team, he will have been hardened by the above moment. It’s possible he’ll have ice in his veins and the pressure won’t get to him.

It’s possible but I hope it isn’t true. This game could absolutely come down to the field goal kickers and while I’ve been very impressed with Rodrigo Bankenship, we’ve never seen what he can do with the game on the line late in a game.

We’ve seen Parkey, now we just have to hope he’s consistent with his past performance.


Punter:

NFL: SEP 13 Browns at Ravens Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jamie Gillan will handle the Browns punting duties this Sunday. It’s Gillan’s second season with the Browns after a college career at Arkansas-Pine Bluff. This isn’t really indicative of his ability to play football but it’s interesting to note that he was born in Scotland.

When I watch the Colts opponents it isn’t often I take notes on punters. It just doesn’t make the cut most of the time and when it does you have to have done something really good, or really bad because most of the time special teams plays are when I put the keyboard down and grab some water or check a text I got within the last 20 or so minutes.

Gillan’s raw punting stats don’t look bad, he’s averaging nearly 45 yards a punt, but watching the games he was inconsistent. When he’s good, he’s good when he’s bad, he’s really pretty bad. It all evens out in the end but I trust Rigoberto Sanchez to win the field position battle on Sunday and I’m assuming field position will be important this week.


Returner:

Cleveland Browns v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Donovan Peoples-Jones will most likely handle return duties this weekend for the Browns. Peoples-Jones is a rookie out of Michigan and has returned three kicks and one punt. Veteran Jojo Natson has returned one kick of his own while returning three punts but finds himself on injured reserve with a torn ACL.

It’s unclear if People-Jones will be a special teams wizard for the Browns but the Colts special teams units have been exceptional this season. While anything is possible, I don’t expect the rookie will break out on special teams in this one.


Final Thoughts for The Week:

The Browns are the best team the Colts have faced this season and I’m not sure that it’s close. Their offensive line is the best I’ve seen this year after upgrading both tackle spots and unleashing all that Wyatt Teller has to offer. Losing Nick Chubb will hurt but former commercial fisherman (no, seriously) D’Ernest Johnson looked very good replacing him last week. The Colts defense has looked amazing, truly the best four week stretch of Colts defense I’ve ever seen, but the Colts haven’t played anyone like the Browns. This week will be a massive test.

On defense the Browns front seven will likely make it hard for Jonathan Taylor to get much going in the run game but Philip Rivers could have a lot of success abusing the Browns safeties who, I spent a lot of time yesterday criticizing.

This game might come down to who is healthier at game time. At the time of this writing neither Larry Ogunjobi or Sheldon Richardson have practiced this week. Both men have been instrumental in the Browns excellent run defense this season. Running back Kareem Hunt has been limited with a groin injury as well. For the Colts, neither Darius Leonard nor Anthony Castonzo have participated in practice this week.

I see this game being a close one, with that said it wouldn’t surprise me if one team put together a few good drives in a row and created a big enough point differential that the other team would be forced to go away from what it would normally try to do on offense to catch up. If the Colts lose this game and it feels like the Browns are dominating, don’t panic. You don’t have to celebrate it, but really, don’t panic. These Browns, barring injury, should be in the playoffs and they should expect to contend, this is a good team.


Predictions

  • Philip Rivers throws for 300+ yards
  • Nick Chubb’s loss is felt and the Browns rush for fewer than 125 yards
  • Mo Alie-Cox ends this game with two touchdowns
  • Final Score:

Colts 17

Browns 16