What was most painful to watch, with the possible exception of the costly turnovers at the end of the game, was the Browns’ secondary’s attempt to defend Washington’s passing attack. Entering the game, Cleveland knew exactly what to expect, as Washington is clearly a pass-first offense. But despite this, Cleveland could not find any defensive look that would work to slow down Cousins and his high-powered receivers.
Joe Haden‘s return to the Browns was supposed to provide the Browns a major boost. While it may have at some points against DeSean Jackson, Haden still struggled in coverage. Most notably, his 50-yard pass interference penalty set up a Washington touchdown.
As for the rest of Cleveland’s secondary, it doesn’t seem fair to come down hard on them for difficulty against a good passing offense. But even if the Browns are undersized and depleted as a unit, the team showed little to make fans believe that their pass defense would ever get any better. Briean-Boddy-Calhoun played a gritty game, even recording a sack on a key play, but his missed tackles and blown coverage hurt the Browns more than he helped in any other way. Jordan Poyer had a similar performance, pouring his heart out for the team, but garnering little success.
It was an admirable effort. But the results speak for themselves. Cleveland’s secondary is just not nearly good enough at this point to match up with the passing attacks of NFL teams. Their weaknesses at this element of the game were exposed on Sunday, leaving fans searching for answers.