Oilers Hoping to Break Browns’ Five-Game Spell in Contest at Cleveland
Houston Oilers Coach Jerry Glanville has a message for the Cleveland Browns.
“If you happen to talk to (Browns’ Coach) Marty Schottenheimer and (quarterback) Bernie Kosar, tell them something for me,” Glanville said.
“We’re not planning to blitz at all. Nope. Tell them not to worry about it.”
Glanville then burst into a deep chuckle, although he quickly admitted his 3-9 Oilers’ visit with 8-4 Cleveland today “will be intense.”
“The Browns have beaten us five straight,” he said. “We don’t want it to be six, and I think we’ve progressed a lot since we lost to them (23-20 at the Astrodome on Sept. 14). We just have to prove it.”
Although he has allowed an NFL-high 22 interceptions, Houston quarterback Warren Moon (215 of 399 passes for 2,933 yards and 12 TD) leads the eighth-ranked passing attack in the league.
Moon is quick to credit wide receivers Drew Hill (52 catches for 875 yards, five touchdowns) and rookie Ernest Givins of Louisville (46 receptions for 803 yards, two TDs).
“Both Drew and Ernest have great hands,” he said. “I think they’re the best wideouts I’ve ever worked with. And Ernest’s still learning.”
Givens expects an “interesting” meeting with Cleveland cornerback Frank Minnifield, who is expected to play after missing a game with a pulled calf muscle. Minnifield also attended Louisville.
“Frank’ll talk a lot to you out there, but distractions are part of the game,” said Givens. “Is he good? He can be hell. We try to stay away from each other in Louisville.”
Schottenheimer, while admiring the Oilers’ aerial attack, warns that running back Mike Rozier (192 carries for 636 yards and four touchdowns) should not be overlooked, especially considering the Browns are 24th in the league as they allow an average of 132.8 yards.
“Houston uses more running than they appear to, and Rozier’s also involved in a lot of gadget plays,” said Schottenheimer. “We have to be alert.”
Kosar heads a offense that has produced 400-yard passing efforts in two of the last three games. The second-year quarterback has completed 242 of 400 attempts for 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. A 414-yard performance last Sunday against Pittsburgh earned him AFC offensive player honors for the second time this season.
Like Moon, Kosar heaps kudos on his targets, especially wide receivers Reggie Langhorne (35 catches for 583 yards, one TD), Brian Brennan (34-487, three TDs) and rookie Webster Slaughter (30-400, two TDs). Veteran tight end Ozzie Newsome (30 for 327, three TDs) also has contributed.
“As we become more familiar with (offensive coordinator) Lindy Infante’s philosophy, we’re playing better,” says Kosar. “We’re also learning how to perform as a unit.”
Although Cleveland’s ground game is the fifth-worst in the NFL, running backs Kevin Mack (98 carries for 350 yards) and Curtis Dickey (94-393) have five touchdowns apiece.
“They have a lot of weapons,” said Glanville. “Our defense (12th overall in the league) will have to be as versatile, and I’m confident in them, and so are they in themselves.”
The game also will mark the debut of kicker Mark Moseley in a Cleveland uniform. Moseley, a 13-year veteran cut by Washington in mid-October, was signed Wednesday to replace the injured Matt Bahr.
“I’m ready,” he said. “But it does feel funny. It’s like being a rookie all over again.”