3 areas where Cleveland Browns need to improve against Chargers in Week 5
Area of improvement No. 1: 4th quarter defense
Easily the most frustrating element of the first quarter of the Browns’ season has been the play of their defense. The frustrations are multi-layered. The largest frustration is that this unit, which returned all of its major contributors and the entire coaching staff, did not pick up where it left off in 2021.
All of that continuity and the defense look like they did at the start of 2021, which is a kind way of saying they look like a mediocre unit. After four games, there is a large enough sample size to properly evaluate a unit’s effectiveness. Well through four games, the Browns are giving up 23.8 points per game. That ranks 19th in the NFL.
But when you look deeper at the points the Browns have given up, there is an alarming trend. Through the first three-quarters of games, they’ve surrendered 45 points. Despite how you might feel about the unit, giving up 11.25 points through three quarters is more than adequate.
However, the Browns have given up 50 points in the fourth quarter alone. How could a defense give up more points in the fourth quarter than they have through the previous three quarters combined? It is not like they’re up three scores and these are garbage time points, these are the most meaningful minutes of the game.
Not to mention, these 50 fourth-quarter points were being scored by offenses with less than exceptional quarterback play. This week the Browns welcome Justin Herbert to FirstEnergy Stadium. If they do not button up their fourth quarter defensive strategy and play calls, Herbert will expose and exploit those weaknesses.
The Browns are dealing with injuries on their defensive line, however, their secondary is fully intact. The spotlight is going to be on Joe Woods to have the back end ready for the aerial attack they are about to go up against. There is zero room for communication errors or blown assignments against Los Angeles.
The Chargers are not playing their best football, but how you play against elite quarterbacks is the measuring stick for whether a defense is good enough or not. Make no mistake, Herbert is elite. There is not a throw he can’t make or a defensive back that he won’t test.
This defense needs to step up and show out, especially in the fourth quarter. If not, the fans that are chanting for Joe Woods to get the axe could become deafening.