Coordinator Jim O'Neil on Browns' defense: 'It's an execution league'

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BEREA, Ohio — The weekly media meeting with Jim O’Neil is becoming something akin to “must see TV,” as the Browns' passionate defensive coordinator passionately explains what’s happening with what is now the league’s 32nd-ranked defense.

On Thursday, O’Neil addressed the statement by a couple of his players that Philip Rivers was able to easily decipher the Browns defense on many occasions in Sunday’s loss.

O’Neil didn’t shrug about it, but he did say that’s kind of the point.

“We knew a lot of their calls,” O’Neil said. “Everybody has a base or a foundation to what they do. There’s a reason we spend so much time up here in the offices, and we spend so much time meting with our players. You’re trying to give the guys the information on what is their base stuff.”

By “base stuff,” O’Neil referred to what teams like most to do.

In the same way, the Chargers spend a lot of time and study to recognize the Browns' key defenses. While cornerback Tramon Williams says the defense lacks variety, O’Neil said variety matters less than other factors.

“The best defense in this league the past two years has been the Seattle Seahawks,” O’Neil said. “They run the same defense every single play.”

Or 90 percent of the time — and often the Seahawks (and now Atlanta, where former Seattle coordinator Dan Quinn is coach) call Cover 3 and aggressively pursue the ball.

Obviously the call matters to O’Neil, but what is done with the call matters more.

As he said: “It’s an execution league.”

“It doesn’t matter … we’re in man, we’re in zone. They’re passing the ball, they’re running the ball. This is the pass they’re gonna run. At the end of the day, you've got to execute it. They did a better job executing their base offensive plays than we did executing our base defensive plays at times. End of story. That’s where it starts and ends,” O’Neil said.

O’Neil said there were times when he could have made better calls against the Chargers, but also times when the defense simply broke down — especially on big plays to Danny Woodhead.

He said nose tackle Danny Shelton has been challenged to play better, that the coaches want him to “pop off the film.”

And he said other breakdowns have led to the huge number of big plays surrendered by the defense — the Browns have given up 10 plays of 30 yards or more this season, most in the NFL, per ESPN Stats & Information.

“Our plans have been tight,” O”Neil said. “I don’t feel like I need to overscheme against the offense were going against because we have good players at every level of the defense. Guys just need to do their job. We need to do a better job executing more consistently.”

As he emphasized, it’s an execution league.

“Any sport at this level is an execution league … ” he said. “We know some of the stuff they’re doing; they know some of the stuff we’re doing. At the end of the day it’s the coach’s job to put the players in position to make plays and the it’s the players job to execute.

“Whoever does that better, the coaching staff and those players, usually wins the game.”