Cleveland Browns have NFL’s second-ranked defense vs Broncos

Believe it or not, the Cleveland Browns still have the second-ranked defense in the NFL in terms of yards per game. 

If you would like to shock your friends senseless, go to your local Browns Backers establishment, and drop this factoid on them: “You know, the Cleveland Browns own the second-ranked defense in the NFL entering week seven in terms of yards allowed per game.”

You may get thrown out of the establishment because no one will believe you. Based on the past two weeks, a substantial fraction of the fans base believes it is time to give up on defensive coordinator Joe Woods.

Nevertheless, despite the horrible performances of the past two games, the Browns defense is indeed ranked second overall, and you may check it out yourself via The Football Database or other websites.

How can this be? The answer has to do with two amazing games that the Browns defense played versus Chicago and Detroit, that make up for the terrible recent performances. Plus the Browns offense has turned the ball over, but the defense has not really given up acres of real estate.

But the point remains that currently, the Browns are playing terrible football on both sides of the ball, including defense. Let’s be clear. Nobody believes they have the second-best defense in the NFL.

The numbers are deceiving in this case. Nevertheless, they aren’t firing the DC while the team has the second-lowest yards allowed in the NFL. Let’s see what happens in Week 7.

A major issue is that Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is out. But the Browns have linebackers to take his place, but not with his speed and athleticism.

Still, the Browns usually play only two linebackers. Sione Takitaki, Anthony Walker, Malcolm Smith and Mack Wilson can stop the run and force Teddy Bridgewater to beat the Browns.

Can he do it? If the Browns can play some man-to-man with Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, Greg Newsome and Troy Hill as the available corners and John Johnson III and Ronnie Harrison as the safeties, they might shut down the Denver running game and take their chances with the passing wizardry of Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Yep, that would be the same Pat Shurmur who was the Browns head coach, as well as Kevin Stefanski’s boss in Minnesota when Stefanski was the quarterback coach.

A lot depends on free safety Grant Delpit, who frankly has looked lost the past two weeks after a terrific game versus Chicago. He has played like a rookie who does not know who he is supposed to cover, which is the kindest way to put it. This is a major concern.

Is this a Delpit problem, or is it a coaching problem? Regardless, the Browns need to get him straightened out. If he has a game like he had versus Chicago, the Browns could be tough on defense again. But if he gives up uncontested receptions again, it could get ugly.

This fan does not see the untalented defense that some unhappy fans see. There is plenty of talent, although the lack of pass coverage depth in the secondary is a major concern. Let’s see if they can come up with a big effort versus the Broncos. The prediction here is that the rotation on the defensive line will indeed shut down the Broncos.

Bridgewater is no spring chicken, and he’s not the healthiest in general as he’s banged up this week. The short interval is going to be rough on him.  This does not favor a big game for him.

Defenses love to rotate players in and out. They are going to be hurt less by the short week than the offenses that try to have players play every snap. This favors the Browns defense.

This fan is looking for a return to dominant defense.

Now how about kicking a few field goals tonight instead of going for it on fourth and four and all that bold stuff that doesn’t work? Whose analytics are telling coach to try those plays that take points off the board, anyway?

This is a good night to play some small ball, dink and dunk, and let the defense win the game.