The Cleveland Browns need to look out for the tough defensive line of the Commanders, and will face a quarterback simultaneously fighting for his job as well as a playoff berth in Carson Wentz.
The Cleveland Browns are invading our nation’s capital to face Dan Snyder’s Washington Commanders, who are still fighting for their playoff lives in Week 17. Given no shot to win at the beginning of the season in a supposedly weak division, coach Ron Riviera has them at 7-7-1, and if they win out, they will be in the playoffs.
Cleveland, on the other hand, is playing for nothing except pride. Are they proud? Many Browns have guaranteed contracts next season and are scheduled for pay hikes. It wouldn’t be shocking if they simply mail it in at the end.
Deshaun Watson and crew better bring their lunch pails and prepare for a tough day at the work site because they will face a very physical front four. You may have thought that defensive end Chase Young was out for the season, but he had his first start against San Francisco last week, played more than expected, and was outstanding. He’s flanked by Montez Sweat on the right side. On the inside are Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne.
With all that being said let’s see which players need the most attention in Week 17.
Player for Browns to watch No. 3: Chase Young, EDGE
Chase Young suffered a serious ACL injury to his right knee last year, which has kept him off the field for 13 months. After diligently rehabbing the knee, he was able to make his season debut against the 49ers. The plan was to ease him in slowly, with about 15 snaps, but he reported no discomfort and begged for more snaps and the team allowed him to play 30 snaps. To make a long story short, he was outstanding.
Ohio State fans will no doubt recall that Young was All-Everything in college. He set the OSU single-season sack record with 16.5 in 2019, was a unanimous All-American, and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Washington selected him second overall in the 2020 draft. He was named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year and made the Pro Bowl after leading all rookies in several statistical categories including sacks with 7.5.
Young is unbelievably quick and a vicious pass rusher. He has been compared to Myles Garrett and will be close to full strength against Cleveland.
He’s paired with Montez Sweat on the right side, who is third on the Commanders this season with 7.0 sacks. Defensive tackle Daron Payne leads with 9.0 sacks. For whatever reason, Pro Football Focus is less impressed with the 6-foot-3, 320-pound Payne’s run defense this season, but anytime your defensive tackle is leading the team in sacks he cannot be all bad. He also has 16 tackles for loss, which is third in the NFL. Hence, it is not obvious what PFF is upset about.