The Steelers have beaten the Browns 22 of their last 25 games - a curiously wide gap differentiating two teams playing in the same division. Things appear to be moving in a different direction down the Cuyahoga, though. A new owner brought in a new coaching staff, fronted by Rob Chudzynski. One of his first decisions was to bring in Norv Turner as the team's offensive coordinator.
Turner has four decades of NFL experience, and he'll need all of it to transform one of the most dismal offensive teams of the last 10 years. By and large, Turner has been successful. Like any coach he's had his ups and downs.
He's struggled with the Steelers in particular.
Since 1997, Turner has faced the Steelers seven times with three different teams, losing six of those games. It's a streak that oddly mirrors the Browns' success against the Steelers - Turner has a win percentage of .143 with Cleveland at .120.
Turner's first head coaching gig was with the Washington Redskins from 1994-2000. The Steelers beat him twice in that tenure - 14-13 in 1997 and 24-3 in 2000. Same thing against the Raiders in 2004, as the Steelers eeked out a 24-21 win - a rarity in Oakland.
Pittsburgh beat Turner's Chargers, where he was the head coach, twice in 2008, once in the regular season and once in the AFC Divisional playoffs. The Steelers surrendered 10 points in a game that saw 13 penalties against the Steelers and none against San Diego. The playoff game wasn't as close as the 35-24 score indicated (Pittsburgh held the Chargers to just 290 total yards and lead the time of possession battle 36-23). That TOP differential grew even wider in 2009 when the Steelers had the ball for over 40 minutes, winning 38-28. The Steelers had 32 first downs in that game.
Turner broke the streak last year with an impressive performance in the Chargers' 34-24 win in Week 14 last year. Turner leaned on a more conservative approach against the Steelers, having quarterback Phillip Rivers throw almost exclusively short, waiting for big plays to open themselves up. They did. Rivers threw three touchdown passes - two to wide receiver Denario Alexander - and despite averaging 3.7 yards per play, and gaining 294 yards in the game, the Chargers scored Turner's first win over the Steelers.
Clearly, there are huge differences between the Browns this year and the Chargers last year, but expect Turner to look for much of the same - short passing in an effort to suck the secondary closer to the line of scrimmage, and taking a few shots deep down the field.
It worked recently, it just didn't work well enough to earn a win the other six times Turner has seen the Steelers.
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