Browns Run Defense: Crowd Sourcing The Problem


The Cleveland Browns are on their Bye Week after 3 tough, close games that leaves them standing at 1 – 2. Even with a losing record there is room for a ton of hope. There is also a lot of room for concern as well. Specifically the Browns run defense has raised eyebrows, right next to Joe Haden‘s struggles, for a defense that was expected to be elite.

Defense, similarly but more than on offense, is a complex thing to evaluate. Knowing who had what responsibility is not always clear, especially from the TV angles. Only from the All 22 camera and with a keen eye for the sport can players, units and defenses be truly evaluated.

In order to get more information on what is causing the Browns run defense to struggle I chose to crowd source the problem with a number of writers and analysts on Twitter that I respect (Needless to say you should be following all of these people). We will paste in their response(s) and give some thoughts to them here. Each was asked the following question:

The Browns run D struggles more about talent or scheme so far?

Brendan watches a ton of film. He hasn’t been a big fan of Rubin based on the play that he saw even last year. If NT is the biggest problem the Browns not having Ishmaa’ily Kitchen active becomes even more problematic. Injuries happen. Bryant seems to be struggling still with his wrist and is unable to get into a 3 point stance often even.

Ryan hits on Rubin as well. Phil Taylor has seemed to be non-existent but what is leading to that is a question. Taylor seems to be trying to make big plays but because of that gets washed out of plays too easily. Instead of going right at his blockers, or taking the outside edge, he has been crossing their face which has allowed them to get leverage.

See a bunch of smart people think similarly but have a little different spin on things, telling how difficult it is to analyze defense. Josh does a great job watching film and following coaches press conferences. Noting that Pettine has said alignments is a problem doesn’t seem like much but it is huge. If a lineman is responsible for a gap but lines up wrong he is unlikely to cover his gap, opening up problems throughout the defense.

Brandon, who I often just think of as Dash based on his Twitter handle, makes an argument that it is an effort thing. Words like trash, scrape and getting downhill are next level. Getting through the trash is all about not letting your blocker keep you blocked. Not giving up that you can get off the block. Scraping is all about flowing to the ball instead of staying engaged and getting downhill is about making an impact into the backfield to disrupt. Effort is key to all of them as Dash notes.

This Ryan took the easy way out but has the most succinct answer. As fans we often want to find someone or something to blame when in fact it most often is a variety of factors.

Mike, who is a diehard living in beautiful Hawaii, notes that the bye week could be huge for coaching up the defense as well as moving players where they are best needed. Starting Kitchen at the nose is a possibility as is moving Taylor inside. With good/great DE depth means that the NT seems to be the issue. Whether coach Pettine is willing to make those type of big moves is a different question.

Pete gives high value to the talent on the field which leads to blaming the scheme mostly. It is possible to have highly talented people and a great scheme but not have those two things match up. Health, as many have noted, is vital to improving as well.

So now that we have crowd sourced do you feel like you understand better the Browns struggles in run defense? Who do you agree with most?