Oct 3, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson (22) is tackled by Cleveland Browns strong safety T.J. Ward (43) and defensive end Armonty Bryant (95) during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns won 37-24. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

An Angry Browns Run Defense Prepares for Lions

An extremely angry Cleveland Browns run defense will have had a week and a half to boil and focus on the Detroit Lions.  The members of the Browns defense were reported to be incensed over their performance against the Buffalo Bills when it came to stopping the run.  The Browns have been one of the best run defenses in the NFL, but the Bills were able to run for 155 yards on 31 carries at 5 yards per carry and score 3 touchdowns.  This could be extremely bad news for the Detroit Lions and their 22nd ranked rushing offense this coming Sunday, but this whole situation is actually good news in the long run because the Browns have enough pride in what they are doing defensively and have the ability that being angry actually means something.

The Browns have established an identity on defense that starts with that front seven and their ability to stop the run.  The players on the Browns have embraced this and taken pride in what they are able to do.  D’Qwell Jackson came out and said that no one could run on them leading up to the Bills game.  The Bills did run on them and ran on them with more success than any other team they have played by far.  The Bills were able to almost double the average per carry that the Browns had given up in the first month of the season.  Their three rushing touchdowns were the most the Browns have given up and the 155 yards were more than the Vikings were able to accumulate at 134.  46 of those yards were from Christian Ponder, which some may try to dismiss because they were largely on scrambles, but they still count.

In the case of the Bills and those 155 yards, only 14 were from quarterback E.J. Manuel.  That means 141 yards were just running straight at them, including a 54 yard run from C.J. Spiller that was beautifully executed by the Bills.  That total and that play in particular get under the skin of the Browns.

Coming into the game, the Bills were the second best run offense in the league.  Behind a huge offensive line and having three backs that can gain yardage as well as a quarterback who could scramble and pick up yardage, made for a potent attack.  The Browns had an opportunity to really put a stamp on what they had done up to that point in the season and while they won the game, the run defense was not what they wanted it to be.

The good news is the Lions have the 22nd ranked rushing offense.  While Reggie Bush and Joique Bell can make plays and certainly cannot be taken lightly, a pissed off Browns defense looking to take their frustrations out on them combined with the fact the Lions are not great at running the football should result in a frustrating day for the Lions on the ground.  And with injuries to Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson that make them both question marks for the game, the Browns should be able to put that much more focus on stopping the run.

As frustrating as the Bills game was for the rushing defense, it is important that the Browns take so much pride in that aspect of the game.  Jackson’s quotes were ill-fated in hindsight, but he had reason to be able to puff up his chest and make that type of statement without feeling cheap and a means of trying to encourage bravado.  He is not someone who is throwing out meaningless guarantees.  The defense is legitimately good, is developing an attitude and a culture where they should expect to be good and when they are not, they take it personally.  This is the first time a Browns team has been able to do that in any unit of the team other than special teams since they have come back in 1999.

The Lions do have something to be worried about in their preparation for the Browns this Sunday.  The Browns defense is legitimately good and now they are angry and focused with a week and a half to prepare.  How that ultimately shakes out is left to be determined but in addition to the overall matchup, this extra ingredient makes it hard to imagine the Lions will be able to eclipse the 100 yard mark.  The Browns may not be able to shut them down like they did the Miami Dolphins but they are certainly going to make Matthew Stafford beat them with his arm, especially if they are missing wide receivers.  As frustrating as it is for the Browns to get gashed the way they did, they are angry and motivated to come out this week and are able to be angry while also coming off of a win.  The fact they are angry and not just content with the win, but looking to continue to improve and hit some goals while they win is an important step in the development of this team and should breed a lot of confidence in where this organization is ultimately headed in the future.

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  • Liam Steinberg

    That last sentence hit the nail right on the head. That is exactly what the Browns have been lacking for the past decade; uncontent with a win, angry about what they struggled in because the leaders on this team and the coaching staff hold them to a higher standard than that even when everyone thought they were just going to play dead for Ted.

    • Pete Smith

      Agreed. Thanks for reading.

  • http://www.anotherwineblog.com Houstonwino

    Keep repeating the phrase “legitimately good” as often as you like, and as the article above shows you don’t really need encouragement to do so, at the end of the day if the Lions have Calvin and Bush in the game they will run and throw at will. The Browns will need to keep up offensively. The question then becomes do they have the horses to keep up with what Stafford is capable of doing with his most potent weapons available. Now, despite making fun of the phrase, the Brown’s D is legitimately good and if Johnson is still hobbled, that may be good enough. However, keep in mind that the Bears D is legitimately good too, and they made little impact.

    • Pete Smith

      Well, with a healthy Calvin Johnson, the Lions had 20 carries for 49 yards as a team against Arizona. I’m not sure that constitutes running at will. The Browns are ranked in the top 10 in both passing and run defense. Meanwhile, both the Vikings and Bears are in the teens in run defense and in the 20s in pass defense. I think the Browns will be able to survive on defense.

      • http://www.anotherwineblog.com Houstonwino

        With the Lions you have to take into account that the short passing game is effectively part of the run game. Just using Bush and Bell’s stats that’s another 85 yards from 8 plays. And that is only from the one cherry-picked game that you brought up. A strange uncharacteristically lethargic game at that. The Browns have not faced an offense that can put up points, when healthy of course, the way that Detroit can. Looking at the one common opponent, the Vikings, the Lions completely dominated them from whistle-to-whistle (same with the Bears) and the scores are only close due to garbage points and crap officiating. While I agree that the Browns are a much better team than in previous years, and very well could win this game, you don’t seem to be taking into account that Detroit’s defense has played great this year too. Btw, they wake up angry every day. Both teams have great defenses, no doubt. One team can score in big chunks…when healthy. I give them the edge, even on the road.

        • Pete Smith

          I have low expectations going into every game offensively. They aren’t there yet; need a QB and a few more weapons. All I know is that this team plays good, tough defense and never stop coming. I don’t expect to win, but I expect the Lions to have a difficult time with the Browns defense.

          • http://www.anotherwineblog.com Houstonwino

            Agreed. It will be a great game to watch for fans of defense. I don’t know how many of those folks are still around these days, but they should be happy on Sunday.

  • Poopadoop

    I wanted to cry when Hoyer went down (still do) but it is amazing to watch these Browns FINALLY have some swagger!!! I can’t remember the last time I felt like our team felt like they could win (did that make sense?). But these guys THINK they can win! I know that must sound pathetic to a lot of fans of other teams out there in the NFL but trust me – for the Browns it’s a HUGE step forward.