It was a very adventurous afternoon to say the least for Cleveland’s linebackers. On one hand, it appeared to have been a very productive game for this unit, highlighted by Christian Kirksey‘s team-leading 11 tackles and the six tackles made by Demario Davis. Some of these plays occurred in the run game where the Browns excelled, so the unit should be commended. But many were merely the result of a wide open receiver which had to be tackled by somebody. In this way, there were many times where Kirksey or Davis missed an assignment but then got credit for the tackle.
Most notably, the linebackers blew assignment after assignment in their coverage of tight ends. Surprisingly, Rob Gronkowski was limited to just 109 yards, though many of which were much too easy. What hurt the Browns most though was Martellus Bennett, who caught all of Brady’s three touchdown passes. Kirksey should have been covering the large target, but was either overwhelmed or confused. He may have made tackles along with Davis, but only after completions which were good for chunks of yardage at a time, allowing the Patriots to put up 33 points.
To give a group credit for chasing players all over the field after blowing coverage is an extremely unfortunate and uninformed thing to do. The linebackers may be giving their all, and they may have had no chance being so over matched against the Patriots. But still, this group must find a way to clean themselves up, communicate better, and tackle more soundly in future weeks.