Cleveland Browns fans should be believers in Jadeveon Clowney.
The Cleveland Browns didn’t end up pulling out the W in Week 1 at the Kansas City Chiefs, but they were more than in that one, and led most of the way. Kansas City and Patrick Mahomes did ultimate get a comeback win, sure, and the defense would concede 33 points on the scoreboard.
It was unfortunate that the Browns couldn’t close things out, as that would’ve been a heck of a jumpstart to the season, in getting a road win at Arrowhead Stadium. That’d have been with a packed house at that.
Nonetheless, there was still plenty of positives, as Baker Mayfield, by and large, did play well, and rookie Anthony Schwartz popped in his first contest. Whether or not Odell Beckham Jr. being sidelined played into that, Cleveland made its share of plays offensively; David Njoku had three catches for a team-high 76 yards, too.
Plus, although the fumble hurt, Nick Chubb had 15 rushes for 83 yards and two touchdowns, and the running game in totality had 26 carries for 153 yards.
Now, the Browns didn’t close how they wanted to, and the Chubb fumble and Jamie Gillan’s dropped punt led to 10 Chiefs points. Mayfield’s interception on Cleveland’s last drive sealed their fate, but one shouldn’t read too much into that. His stat line was impressive, too, and the offense did look dominant, to a large degree, as DPD’s Greg Newland stressed.
Granted, it wasn’t necessarily the best outing defensively for the Orange and Brown, and again, the Gillan mishap was a gut punch.
Even so, while Kansas City having its share of new faces on the offensive line did lead to some confusion it seemed, Cleveland did put Mahomes under pressure a fair amount. He still did what he does, and overall, had 337 yards and three touchdowns, including one that, all together went for 75 yards to Tyreek Hill, but one thing was apparent in watching the game.
Jadeveon Clowney could make quite the difference for this Browns defense this season.
Clowney had an encouraging Week 1 outing for the Cleveland Browns.
It wasn’t an otherworldly performance, as Clowney registered four total tackles, and two solo tackles. And there were no quarterback hits for him.
That said, in his first game with this new club, and after he’s, unfortunately, had two injury-ridded seasons in the past two, to some extent with the Seattle Seahawks and after a disappointing year with the Tennessee Titans, he looked good.
Clowney did have a few opportunities where he got free to hit Mahomes, where didn’t get home, but him registering two pressures and doing a solid job, as he typically has when healthy, was encouraging. Him knifing into the backfield and bringing down Hill was a play that stood out, for instance, and one should expect to see him get his share of tackles for loss this season, to that point.
His being able to be aggressive in this new situation in Cleveland defensive coordinator Joe Woods’ scheme should bode well for Clowney and the Browns run defense, too. He’s had plenty of success when he’s been healthy in doing so throughout his career, particularly back with the Houston Texans.
Also, in relation to the pass rush element with Clowney, even with him missing a few times and with Mahomes at one point making him miss and leading to a red zone rushing touchdown, Clowney was making his presence felt in that realm. The same went for Malik Mcdowell to an extent on the interior, and for what it’s worth, few are harder to get on the ground in pass-rush situations than Mahomes, anyway.
If Cleveland can get a similar performance/pass rush from Clowney game-to-game, with Myles Garrett often on the other side (who had a sack, two QB hits, and four pressures), it will go a long way for the defense. Clowney looked quick, was affecting the run game and in upcoming games, and could very well have his chances to get home/register impactful quarterback hits.
Moreover, this Week 1 performance for him was encouraging.
And while Mahomes and KC did get theirs at times still in the passing game, some of the plays from Mahomes were just superstar plays, and the defense did look noticeably faster, as the aforementioned Newland mentioned.
The Gillan bobble and Chubb fumble didn’t aid the defense, either, who did at least hold KC to a field goal post-fumble, and the defense should be plenty fine generally, as DPD’s Grant Puskar hit on.