Browns vs Bears: Defensive highlights and takeaways

Sep 1, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard (24) gets tackled by Cleveland Browns running back Rajion Neal (43) during the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Bears defeated the Browns 21-7. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 1, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard (24) gets tackled by Cleveland Browns running back Rajion Neal (43) during the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Bears defeated the Browns 21-7. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cleveland Browns hosted the Chicago Bears in Thursday night. How did the Browns defense perform in the last exhibition before the regular season?

The Cleveland Browns hosted the Chicago Bears in the fourth and final preseason game of the year. Nicknamed the “Replacement Bowl,” this game is where players on the bubble and dreaming the impossible dream put on their final performance to make a NFL roster.

Hue Jackson stated that he was planning on playing the starters Thursday night. The defensive starters played two series.

The defense’s performance was uneven. The Browns let Brian Hoyer, starting at quarterback for the Bears, to throw on rhythm. Once passes were caught, the Browns struggled to tackle. However, the defense was able to generate enough pass rush to affect the quarterback. The run defense showed they could provide edge contain effectively shutting down the Bears run game in the first half.

Here are a few takeaways from last night’s game.

Four-Man Line

There were several schematic questions heading into this week’s game. Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Browns began experimenting with a four-man front in nickel and some running situations. Against the Bears, the Browns continued to use the four down linemen look.

When in the four-man line look, Carl Nassib and Emmanuel Ogbah contributed primarily from the defensive end position, although they rotated inside occasionally. They rushed the passer effectively from the outside.

The pass rush was exotic with more defensive line stunts and games. They effectively opened opportunities for pressures and hits on the quarterback.

Stopping the Run

With the release of Paul Kruger, there were questions about how the Browns would be able to stop the run. The good news for the Browns is that Emmanuel Ogbah was able to set the edge from both the defensive end position and from outside linebacker.

Addressing the play of Carl Nassib, Emmanuel Ogbah stated, “(Carl) Nassib is a great player. I tell him before every game he gets a play, I got to get a play, too. We like to compete with each other. If he makes a play, I’ve got to make one, too.”

Nate Orchard continued setting the edge from the other outside linebacker position. Carl Nassib contributed in the run game from the defensive end position. With the improvement at the edge, the inside run defense was able to bottle up the Bears’ runners.

About the running game Xavier Cooper remarked, “We just got to put our head down and work. I think we’re going to build off what we did in the preseason. I thought we got after it in the run game. We want to stop the run, stopping the run on the way to the quarterback. We did some good things in the run and we just got to prepare for Philly now. Everything counts now.”

However in the fourth quarter, with the third-string defense on the field,  the run defense fell apart.

The Secondary

It is clear the Browns’ secondary needs help. The starters in the secondary played for the first series. They started slow but were able to hold the Bears to a field goal. The starters played inconsistently, making good plays only to miss tackles later. If the Browns want to win in the future, the secondary needs to be more consistent.

As Tramon Williams stated, “It’s got to be different in 10 days. I think we’ve been doing a lot of good things throughout the preseason, not consistent enough but we do have hope that we can get it consistent. All we can do it keep working. It’s never as perfect as you want it to be but if you put in the time and effort, you can get it there.”

However, beyond the starters, the secondary did not play well. Charles Gaines continues to get picked on. Tracy Howard did not fare much better.

The safeties played well. Derrick Kindred continued to flash. He was able to make solid tackles.


Scooby Wright may have played himself onto the team with his play against the Bears. He played solid run defense and he had a fantastic stop on fourth and goal.

The punter battle was on full display. The Browns added two punters this week following the trade of Andy Lee. The offense provided plenty of opportunity for them to display their talents.

Kasey Redfern had a good evening punting. He had four punts for a 39.5-yard average. He showed the ability to kick to his coverage without overkicking them. He was able to put the ball where the play dictated. He was able to have enough hang time to allow the coverage to make the tackle upon the catch. These are both marked improvements over last week’s game. On one of his punts the Browns were able to get a fumble recovery.

Michael Palardy, brought in to compete with Redfern, had five punts for a 48.6-yard average including placing two inside the 20. He had a 75-yard punt to highlight his night. He showed a big leg along with ball placement.

This battle will come down to preference. Do the Browns want accuracy or power?

Moving Forward

The Browns open the season in Philadelphia on September 11th. Head coach Hue Jackson knows that things must be different come the regular season.

"I feel good about where we are. I wish it would have been better – I don’t like being 0-4 – I think you guys kind of know me a little bit, so that part I’ll take and file away. Outside of that, now it’s every week getting ready to play the game for wins and losses. It’s not anything else. It’s not evaluation period. It’s game plan, it’s making sure we cross the T’s, dot the I’s and get ready to play. I think our guys will be ready to play."

What do you think Browns fans? Will the defense be ready to go in Philly?