Relentless pressure on Rivers
For the Browns in 2016, it has been more a matter of getting the opportunity to rush the passer that has given them difficulty than the actual rushing of the passer.
Two main factors contribute to this. For one thing, the scheme defensive coordinator Ray Horton has established and his unwillingness to bring the heat could explain why Cleveland enters Week 16 with just 22 sacks, the fewest in football. However, the inability to stop the run in order to put opponents in clear passing situations keeps the defense on their heels.
Most fans realize that the Browns do have very capable young pass rushers on the roster. Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib have each shown flashes of brilliance when given the opportunity. The problem is, these rushers are too often asked to stop the run or even drop back into pass coverage.
In the end, Cleveland needs to dial-up pressure, and be persistent in doing so. It isn’t as much about getting sacks, but generating pressure which will assist the secondary and eventually get the Browns off the field. It is a bit of a risk, but the Browns haven’t been successful in 14 tries playing the conventional way on defense.
Not only will this assist in their pass rush, it will help out against the rushing attack as well. As long as the Browns are careful not to over-pursue, they should be able to collapse the pocket and force Philip Rivers and the Chargers into very uncomfortable situations. For a team that probably doesn’t really want to play anyway, being thousands of miles away from home in the cold on Christmas Eve and out of playoff contention, keeping them uncomfortable will go further in this one than many realize.