Grading the first quarter of the Cleveland Browns 2022 season

Browns, Nick Chubb. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Browns, Nick Chubb. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
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Myles Garrett, Browns
Myles Garrett, Browns /

First quarter grade: Defense

When healthy it’s indisputable that the Browns have playmakers at all three levels of their defense. While Myles Garrett gets most of the headlines, and rightly so, he’s not the only defensive player that is among the best in the league at their respective position. But through the first four games, Cleveland’s defense has been less than the sum of their parts.

This is a defense that is in the third year of their scheme. However, they didn’t pick up where they left off last year. Instead, they are playing like a defense that hit the reset button after the 2021 season. Which is eerily similar to how the beginning of the 2021 season felt, but that was easily explainable by the number of new players integrated into the unit.

As it stands now, the defense is playing uneven at best. For stretches, they have resembled the unit that showed so much promise over the second half of last season. But, when they have needed to make a game-sealing stop, they have faltered and paid the price for it.

On the season, the defense has given up 95 points. However, 50 of those points have been surrendered in the fourth quarter. That number is the most by any team in the NFL this season. Through four games, the Browns are giving up 12.5 points per fourth quarter. When you compare that to the 7.6 that they gave up per fourth quarter last season, it’s easy to see that this unit is heading in the wrong direction.

What is the reason for the dip in performance? Well, there is a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is their defensive ends being unavailable, but there is one issue that sticks out above the rest. This unit is not assignment sound in the back end. That is an issue that plagued the defensive backs in the early portion of 2021 and unfortunately, it’s rearing its ugly head yet again.

The problem extends from the defensive coordinator down through the position coaches and ends on the field with the players. The good news is, it’s something that can be fixed. But there’s bad news as well. This unit will face Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, and Tom Brady over the next two months.

Hopefully, Jadeveon Clowney and Garrett are able to get back on the field sooner rather than later and this defense is able to iron out their assignment issues. But, just by going by what they have shown so far, this is not the defense that the fans were promised.

Defensive first quarter grade: C-