Cleveland Browns: Position grades from an ugly loss to Pittsburgh
Much like the defensive line, the linebackers struggled to slow down Bell. However, they did tackle more soundly, refusing to give up large chunks of yardage. This aided the Browns in their effort to keep Pittsburgh from running up the score, but it wasn’t nearly enough for Cleveland to get off the field consistently.
Christian Kirksey led the way for the linebackers, and was the Browns’ leading tackler. Jamie Collins and Demario Davis were close behind, rounding out the three leading tacklers for the Browns.
The fact that the linebackers were in on so many tackles is encouraging, but it doesn’t define their overall performance. Kirksey, Davis, and Collins all struggled to defend the pass, as they just couldn’t keep up with Pittsburgh’s speedy receivers. They also had issues defending the screen pass, allowing the running backs and tight ends to run free on multiple occasions.
Most of all, the inability to finish tackles one-on-one has plagued the Browns’ linebackers. The fact that they make tackles does not redeem the fact that they miss a bunch too. Gang-tackling is nice, and a lot of effort is undoubtedly being put forth, but the Browns will continue to struggle defensively until they can make individual tackles.