Browns Vs Titans: 5 Reasons for Optimism

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Sep 21, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns fans hold a photo of head coach Mike Pettine during the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Ravens won 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Bye Week

The Browns are coming off their bye week. Normally this is a big deal as teams look to get healthy. While the Browns are healthier because of it there was a far bigger issue for the team to deal with especially on defense. Adjustments.

The Browns were installing a new offense and defense this year which seemed to lead to breakdowns on the defensive side of the ball. The scheme and talent on that side of the ball do not seem to be the problem per se, instead it has been the decision-making of the players on the field.

In the run game too many players have been crossing offensive linemen’s faces, trying to cross in front of instead of going on the outside shoulder or straight at them. This has allowed the linemen just to carry the defender straight out of the play opening up big running lanes. During the bye week this likely was addressed during film and practice sessions.

The Browns have also lost outside leverage on most run plays. This is partially due to defensive ends trying to do too much but also the outside linebackers not holding the edge. Barkevious Mingo in particular, but also Jabaal Sheard, became overly aggressive trying to attack the run on the inside leaving the cutback and outside bounce wide open. Spending the bye week emphasizing holding the edge was vital.

Pass defense has not been much better. The bye week hopefully gave Pettine time to adjust how Joe Haden, Justin Gilbert and the rest of the defensive backfield plays. With better run defense upfront the Browns can keep more defenders in coverage. Against the Titans this is unlikely as their run game is their strength but the DBs will be tested today will they stand up or fall down?

While the Browns defense had the most to adjust to, Kyle Shanahan and the Browns offense likely didn’t sit back and rest on their laurels. This is a week when we can expect tendency breakers. If the Browns have shown that on 2nd and 5 with a tight end on the right they will often run right then this week a play action pass of that look could be wide open. Expect Shanahan to continue to develop the offense, looking for ways to get throws down field and maybe even Johnny Manziel involved.