The Cleveland Browns have played two games and the defense has been the main point of consternation following the team’s sloppy win over Houston Texans in Week 2.
Coordinator Joe Woods has seven new starters on his side of the ball, as the Browns’ big free-agent moves, in addition to their first two draft picks were dedicated to defense.
As the Browns struggle, the demand for change is ramping up. Some argue the defense will take some time to gel, but others are looking for an immediate return on investment.
The answer probably falls somewhere in between, but in the bottom line world of the NFL, when you’re not registering a quarterback hit against Texans’ quarterback Davis Mills–and it didn’t come until the fourth quarter with two minutes remaining, you’ve got to better. A lot better.
There are some shockingly bad defense stats impacting Cleveland’s defense, via ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi (subscription required).
1. Cleveland Browns terrible on 3rd down: The Browns can’t get off the field. Opponents are moving the chains on 3rd down at a conversion rate of 63 percent, last in the league!
2. Cleveland Browns red zone equals dead zone: If the opposing team finds the red zone, forget about it. Cleveland’s giving up a touchdown. Teams have racked up five touchdown in seven trips inside the 20. At least they’re not dead last. This number is tied for 20th in the league.
Cleveland Browns: Too many points
Cleveland’s allowed 54 points–breaking down to 27.0 points per game, which is tied for 21st.
The Browns gave up 33 points in Kansas City, but I was willing to overlook the total tied to the defense. Remember, Nick Chubb’s fumble gave Kansas City the ball on the Browns’ 48. They ended up up with a field goal following the turnover.
The other big play was the Jamie Gillan fumble, which gave Patrick Mahomes the ball on Cleveland’s 10.
Ten points that could’ve been avoided. If that 33 shrinks to 23, then the Browns’ defense would’ve carried the day. Allowing 23 points to the Chiefs? That gives you a chance every time. Alas, many a Browns fan can fall down the “What if” rabbit hole, never to appear again.
The Texans game was inexplicable. Tyrod Taylor was moving his offense effortlessly until his halftime injury. Again, the Browns, with $100 million man Myles Garrett and prized free agent Jadeveon Clowney, couldn’t touch Mills.
Fans calling for more blitzes in order to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks may be disappointed against Chicago, because dialing up extra players to rush isn’t how the team was built. Cleveland invest in its defensive line so that it wouldn’t have to send extra players.
If Garrett’s chewing up double-teams, someone else on the line needs to show up and make a play. With a rookie quarterback in Justin Fields waiting to go up against the Browns on Sunday, the opportunity should be there for Cleveland to rebound.