3 massive Browns storylines to watch against New England

Browns, Kevin Stefanski. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Browns, Kevin Stefanski. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /
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Browns, Greg Newsome II. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

Storyline No. 1: Can the Browns defense stop the bleeding?

It wasn’t just Browns fans that thought Cleveland’s defense would be one of the best units in the league. The NFL community at large was sold on the fact that their defense would be the strength of the team, and potentially a top-five unit. But then the season happened.

Cleveland’s defense has been one of, if not the most, disappointing defenses in the NFL this year. With the entirety of their starting defense and defensive coaching staff returning, it’s actually staggering the regression that this unit has succumbed to. In typical fandom fashion, everyone is looking for a scapegoat and many seem to have found one in defensive coordinator, Joe Woods.

The reality of the situation is that Woods isn’t going to be fired in season and that it is going to be up to Woods and the rest of the coaching staff to get this unit back to the level of the expectations that were set upon them. Now they may not get there, but in that pursuit, they might be able to become a respectable unit again.

Their first order of business is to play together and play for one another. It all starts with three fundamental rules: alignment, assignment, and keys. That’s the basis for any successful defensive unit. That has to be the foundation of their success, and from there they can build and add elements.

There have been four fundamental flaws that have plagued this defense: miscommunication, blown assignments, inept tackling, and poor effort. The good news is all four of the flaws can be fixed. The bad news is that it isn’t going to be corrected overnight.

It will be up to the coaches to put a plan of action in place and up to the players to execute that plan. The leaders in the locker room need to put it on their shoulders and see to it that everyone is all in. This is where Myles Garrett gets to prove that he is who he portrays himself to be in the media. Garrett’s role in the locker room is equally as important as his role on the field in times like these.

With New England coming to town, their tackling and their effort are going to be put to the test. We are going to learn a lot about the character of this defense by how they respond to last week’s performance. It only goes two ways from here, either they start to turn it around or it goes south. If it goes south, it could take the entire team down with them.

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