The Cleveland Browns have a tough test against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
What’s more likely, that it took nine years for Cordarrelle Patterson to find his footing as an NFL player, or that the Atlanta Falcons running game is actually really well built and executed? You’ll have to excuse me for not giving the benefit of the doubt to a 31-year-old running back who is all of a sudden a Top 5 rusher in the NFL.
No, I think the Falcons are similiar to the Browns in the sense that any passable running back could put up 1,000 yards in that offense. Yes, Patterson is third in the NFL currently with 302 yards rushing, but keep in mind the Falcons are fifth in the NFL in rushing yards per game with 157.2 yards per game, fifth with 470 total yards, and 7th in the NFL in yards-per-carry with 4.9.
Just 0.1 shy of the Browns’ average per carry. The Falcons are a great rushing team and arguably the first real great rushing team the Browns have faced. The Panthers may have counted if they had an offensive scheme that didn’t telegraph the team’s passing and rushing plays.
The Falcons aren’t a poorly coached team like the Panthers. In fact, the Falcons may be a playoff team come next season with a better quarterback and some more pieces. Due to the talent on the team, the Browns are very likely going to face their first real test of the season, at least when it comes to stopping the run.
The Cleveland Browns’ defense will finally be tested against the run
Myles Garrett playing or not playing really won’t affect the outcome if we’re talking about the defensive run game. Garrett, who was hurt while speeding down a narrow side street and crashing his vehicle after losing control, is listed as day-to-day. He’s also someone who has never impacted the team’s run defense.
He’s an average defender at best against the run, and the Browns have more than enough depth to make up for what he brings against the rush. Not against the pass, to be clear, just the rush. Jadeveon Clowney, who is also listed as day-to-day and may miss Sunday’s game as well, is the player who really makes a big impact against the run against the edges.
Not having him is going to compound the task at hand come Sunday.
Losing Anthony Walker was bad enough against the pass, but losing him and potentially Jeremiah-Owusu-Koramoah won’t help things either. Owusu-Koramoah is also day-to-day with his groin injury and considering how easy it is to reaggravate or worse groin injuries, sitting him for Sunday may make the most sense.
So with a host of injuries, it really all comes down to the defensive tackles. The starting duo of Jordan Elliot and Taven Byran (also uncertain for Sunday) will be tasked to step up against a Falcons team that is excelling at the rush.
Perrion Winfrey is in the dog house due to unprofessional behavior, and Tommy Togiai is as inconsistent as the Texas power grid. The Browns’ defensive front four are going to be asked to step up in a big way and how they respond will set the tone for the rest of the season.
If they go into the game banged up and produce, then the Browns can safely say they at least have some defensive tackles who can make an impact. Yet, banged up or not, if the Browns’ interior defensive linemen don’t step up and slow down the Falcons’ rushing game, then it really doesn’t matter what combination of the four men they start,
Togiai and Elliot need to be more consistent and Winfrey, if he plays, needs to produce to make up for his dog-house status.
It may be unfair to lay so much of the pressure on the defensive tackles but considering how lackluster they’ve been against worse offenses and were bailed out by the guys behind them, it’s time they returned the favor and held their ground against the Falcons.