Defensive Line: D
Over the past few weeks, Cleveland’s defensive line has outperformed the rest of the defense. This week was a different story though. Against a poor offense that relies on a strong rushing attack, the front three did little to slow down either the run or pass game.
Jamie Meder was one exception, as he influenced the game greatly, turning in five sacks. Danny Shelton had an average game, and Carl Nassib also showed up. But as a unit, the defensive line did fail to consistently stop the run, and they didn’t generate any pressure on Fitzpatrick.
The struggles of the line came to a head early in the game when Bilal Powell ran for a 35-yard touchdown on a third-and-ten play. If not for a penalty, the Jets would have had another first down on the ground later in the game on a third-and-sixteen. These kinds of lapses against an average offensive line prevents the defense from getting off the field when necessary. As a unit, the Browns were not consistent enough stopping the run.
As for the pass rush, it was virtually non-existent. The Browns knew coming in that if they were able to generate pressure without blitzing, they would force Fitzpatrick to make mistakes. The Jets only allowed two sacks though, and the Jets did not turn the ball over. While Fitzpatrick should be given credit, this is also a direct reflection of the defensive line’s inability to create pressure on the quarterback.