Cleveland Browns news: This former defensive strength has become major weakness

The Cleveland Browns news round-up brings you everything you need to know about your favorite franchise

Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns / Harry How/GettyImages

For much of the 2023 season, it felt as though the Cleveland Browns defense was guaranteed to force a kick on third down. They were stopping the opposing offense at an incredible rate which was one of the main reasons their defense was so feared. But over the past two weeks, that hasn't been the case.

Both the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Rams had their way on third down and it wasn't just short conversions either. They were giving up the deep ball and even found themselves hit with untimely penalties as well that extended drives. If they want to get back on track, they need to figure out how to fix this first.

Of course, the easy answer is to get everyone healthy. The Browns have been banged up with Denzel Ward out and Myles Garrett trying to fight through a shoulder injury. But they can't afford too many more losses, so defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will need others to step up over the next few weeks to correct this issue — an issue that kicks off today's news round-up.

Cleveland Browns news

One of the Browns’ biggest strengths this season becomes a struggle for the 2nd straight week in loss to Rams — Ashley Bastock,

"Cleveland has been the best third-down defense in the league this season under new coordinator Jim Schwartz. Coming into Sunday, the Browns led the NFL allowing opposing offenses to convert on only 27.14% of their attempts. But over the last two weeks, suddenly opposing team’s third-down conversions became difference makers."

Nothing is more demoralizing than seeing a team convert a third down, especially when it's third-and-long. That was a problem for years under Joe Woods and while Schwartz had this figured out early on, the injuries are catching up. They need to get healthy in a hurry but until they do, they're going to have to get creative to shut teams down.

Browns will face Jaguars without WR Christian Kirk and possibly QB Trevor Lawrence — Tyler Greenawalt, Browns

"Jaguars wide receiver Christian Kirk suffered a core muscle injury in Jacksonville’s Week 13 overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and will likely miss “some time,” according to head coach Doug Pederson. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, meanwhile, suffered a high-ankle sprain that forced him to leave Week 13, per Pederson. The Jaguars coach refused to rule Lawrence out of this week’s game, though and the quarterback is reportedly trying to rehab quickly enough to suit up, according to The Athletics Jeff Howe."

Trevor Lawrence knows how important this game is. His team just suffered a loss to the Bengals and now has the Houston Texans on their heels. Another loss could open the door for them to overtake the Jags in the AFC South. Cleveland will still face a depleted receiving corps, however, which could help them end their losing streak.

Joe Flacco reverts to Browns' practice squad one day after starting at QB; Cleveland's Week 14 plans unclear — Cody Benjamin, CBS Sports

"One day after starting for the Browns against the Rams, quarterback Joe Flacco has reverted back to Cleveland's practice squad, with coach Kevin Stefanski telling reporters Monday he's undecided on a starting QB for Week 14 against the Jaguars. It's just the latest move in a whirlwind of activity for the 38-year-old Flacco, who only joined the Browns' practice squad on Nov. 20."

There was some panic after the game that this could lead to Joe Flacco being poached, maybe even by the Steelers who just lost Kenny Pickett. However, this is a standard move and opposing teams can't sign Flacco unless he wants to go. He's just getting comfortable with his new team, so there's no way he packs up and starts over again.

Cleveland Browns should start Joe Flacco for the rest of the season — Eddie McDonald, DPD

While Kevin Stefanski isn't ready to name a starting quarterback for Week 14, some want the new starter to be named permanently. Joe Flacco stretched the field more than any quarterback not named Deshaun Watson and this offense needs that. No, he's not perfect, but he's a veteran leader who this team feels comfortable with.

AFC North Power Rankings: Cleveland Browns aren't alone in their struggles — DPD

The two losses sting but the good news for the Browns is that they've lost no ground in the playoff race. They're also still in good shape in our weekly AFC North Power Rankings, thanks in large part to the Steelers losing. But the Bengals are also closing the gap after their big win.

Cleveland Browns GM Andrew Berry making a case for executive of the year. Cleveland Browns GM Andrew Berry making a case for executive of the year. dark. Next