Cleveland Browns: Defense struggles in loss to Bucs
The Cleveland Browns fell to 0-3 this preseason after a 30-13 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Friday night.
The NFL preseason is not a time when wins and losses matter, but it still sheds light on how a team is looking heading into the regular season. For the Cleveland Browns, things aren’t looking too good right now.
The Browns lost by the final score of 30-13, but the 27-10 halftime deficit is more indicative of how the game went, as the majority of the starters for both sides played the entire first half.
Before getting to the negatives, let’s start with the positives.
The best part about the game was the play of Josh Gordon, appearing in his first game since the end of the 2014 season. He finished with two catches for 87 yards and a touchdown on a beautiful throw from Robert Griffin III.
The game also saw the professional debut of Corey Coleman, who finished with zero catches. It would have been nice to see him finish with at least one catch, but it was just good to see him healthy and on the field for the game.
Griffin’s play was another positive for the Browns. He completed 8 of his 14 passes for 119 yards and the one touchdown to Gordon. He was sacked five times in only one half of football, so seeing him take care of the ball was great given the lack of protection. There was a play when it appeared he had the ball stripped, but it was not ruled a fumble, so we will not treat it as such.
Now on to the negatives, or just the play of the first-team defense.
305 total yards in the first half is an alarming figure. Based on simple math, that ends up being 610 yards for the game if both teams played their starters for the entire game.
Justin Gilbert is often focused on, and had his struggles Friday night, but actually had some nice open-field tackles and pass breakups. Unfortunately, he left the game with a concussion so let’s all hope it is not too serious.
The problem with the defense is the lack of a pass rush, combined with a weak secondary, equalling an all-around bad defense. Jameis Winston was not sacked once on the night, and neither were Mike Glennon or Ryan Griffin. Considering the Browns’ quarterbacks were sacked a total of eight times, one would assume the defense should at least be able to get Glennon or Griffin on the ground once.
The stats are ugly, but the problem is just a lack of talent. Rookies Carl Nassib and Emmanuel Ogbah continue to look great, but they cannot solve the entire problem.
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Next Thursday’s preseason finale against the Chicago Bears will not feature many of the starters on either side of the ball, so it may be until September 11 in Philadelphia until fans get another look at the starters. And based on how the entire team played tonight, Browns fans may be in for another long season.