Following Monday Night Football the Cleveland Browns did not look like a team ready to compete for even a .500 record. Soon there after Head Coach Mike Pettine made the choice of Brian Hoyer over Johnny Manziel for the starting QB position. A decision that currently feels like choosing between being punched in the right arm or being punched in the left. Browns’ fans have concerns yet the good thing about being a Browns’ fan is that we always are able to find hope. We have a unique quality to be hopeful even in the face of problems.
That is one of the many qualities that makes the Browns’ fans the greatest fan base in the world. While negativity surrounds us we are able to look forward to what might be, what can be. During the season, after it is obvious that we are not likely to make the playoffs, we look forward to the NFL Draft. Yet we are still in the Pre-Season and we still have plenty of reason for hope.
Mike Pettine’s defense is loaded with players. Obviously injuries will play a huge role, they do with every team, but the Browns have some depth to deal with an injury or two on the front 7. Even right now with Desmond Bryant‘s early season in jeopardy the Browns will just plug big Phil Taylor into his spot across from Billy Winn. The defensive line is stacked, especially for a 3-4 scheme. Winn, Taylor, Bryant, Armonty Bryant, Jabaal Sheard, Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo are all more than able to attack from the inside or outside.
There is also a ton of talent at the linebacker level, where Sheard, Kruger and Mingo will spend their primary time. Adding veteran stud Karlos Dansby and rookie Christian Kirksey to the middle, along with an improved Craig Robertson, means the Browns can mix and match at the second level as well. Dansby and Kirksey can stop the run or come as blitzers depending on Pettine’s creative designs.
Last year with the Bills, Pettine led his defense to the 4th best against the pass including having the 6th most turnovers. While his defense was a putrid 28th in rushing yards, they were 8th best in rushing TDs allowed, giving credence to the big 4 play goal line stand on Monday night. His defense also was 2nd in sacks, just behind the Caroline Panthers.
We haven’t even mentioned yet the stellar secondary that Pettine could deploy with Joe Haden, Buster Skrine, first rounder Justin Gilbert and big hitter Donte Whitner. If Tashaun Gipson can continue his steady improvement at free safety, Skrine recovers from his thumb injury while Gilbert completes his smooth transition to the league the Browns are a defensive backfield to be reckon with. They have coined that they will #LockDownTheLake and we believe them.