The Cleveland Browns beat the New York Jets in the Hall of Fame Game Thursday night and part of that success came from their defense, which is revamped under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. His defensive philosophy which allows the lineman to play in more double-gap schemes rather than single-gap assignments seemed to handle the Jets run game pretty well on the night.
New York only converted two of 12 third down attempts and was shut out from scoring points in the second half. They only had nine first downs for the game and totaled 188 yards including a measly 53 rushing yards overall.
There were several Browns players on defense that stood out and we’ll look at three of them now.
No. 3: Tony Fields, LB
Tony Fields will be playing his third season with the Browns. He was drafted out of West Virginia after playing at Arizona. He continues to improve every year and in this game, he seemed to be everywhere. Wherever the ball went, you could find Fields involved in the tackle or being there in pursuit.
He finished with six tackles and seemed to be the leader and motor of the defense from the start.
Last season, Fields finished with 45 tackles and played well, especially in the last few games. I suspect we will see a lot more of him this year, and if he plays with the passion that he displayed in the Hall of Fame Game that will only help this team even more moving forward.
No. 2: Isaiah McGuire, DE
Rookie Isaiah McGuire played well in his debut. He’s accustomed to playing the double gaps schemes that Schwartz has implemented, and that certainly made him look comfortable out there on the field.
He was credited with two tackles, and again, just seemed to be near and around the ball with the Browns only giving up 53 yards in the ground. That’s a good way for the defensive unit to start the preseason.
With the signing of free agent Z'Darius Smith, McGuire, who was drafted in the fourth round by the team, he's not expected to have to be depended on as the season gets underway but he'll certainly add depth at the defensive end position.
No. 1: Bubba Bolden, S
The Browns have several talented safeties, including Grant Delpit, Rodney McLeod, and Juan Thornhill. Still, they also have several talented younger players trying to make the final roster and Bubba Bolden made a good showing at the Hall of Fame Game as he had an interception at the end to seal the victory.
Cleveland picked up Bolden last November to be primarily a practice squad player and he’s anticipated to be used mainly on special teams this year.
Originally Bolden played at USC and then transferred, spending three years at the University of Miami where he really excelled. He had an exceptionally good junior season, as he recorded 74 tackles, had an interception, and more impressive had four forced fumbles.
While the competition wasn’t as strong at the end of the Hall of Fame Game when Bolden got the interception it still was a competitive last few minutes of the game. It was nice to see the youngster record the interception and secure the win for the Browns.