Browns: How Should Cleveland Improve Going Into 2016?

2 of 5

Aug 29, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Jim O

Fire Jim O’Neil

I am not a huge proponent of firing a team’s coach during a bye week, much less during a team’s regular game week, but this is an exception.

Browns defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil took a defense with many talented players and drove it into the ground. The Browns retain the highest paid defense in the NFL with five Pro Bowlers, yet they are ranked 30th overall in total defense.

Their defense gained players up front in both free agency with defensive end Randy Starks and players in the draft with nose tackle Danny Shelton, defensive end Xavier Cooper and outside linebacker Nate Orchard. However, success has yet to be seen in the running game as the Browns have went from giving up 141.6 yards/game in 2014 to giving up 138.8 yards/game in 2015.

While this is a slight improvement, this is not nearly the improvement the Browns were expecting as they remain in last place in the NFL in terms of rushing yards allowed each game. If teams can run the ball on the Browns at will, then those teams will control many different aspects of the game.

Cleveland’s pass defense has also regressed a lot. The Browns had given up 224.5 passing yards/game in 2014, but now give up 268.5 passing yards/game this season. Giving up that many yards hurts the team much more than you would think.

In 2014, the Browns were at least able to sort of hide their horrible run defense with the fact that they were able to defend the passing game pretty well. Now they aren’t able to defend either and are giving up 6.6 more points in 2015 than they did in 2014 because of it.

Many of the defense’s woes are put on O’Neil’s scheme rather than the actual play of the Browns’ players this season.

Regardless, the Browns do not look nearly as good as they were hyped up to be. The players themselves have proven they can play well either in Cleveland or elsewhere. Unfortunately, the Browns coaching staff has not been able to put it together and that is unacceptable with this amount of talent available to them.

O’Neil should be fired at the end of the season, if not sooner and if it is any sooner then that I would want Browns head coach Mike Pettine should coach the defense himself.

Next: Stability