Monday, December 5, 2011
Upon Further Review: Browns
By Jamison Hensley
Revisiting the Cleveland Browns' 24-10 loss to the visiting Baltimore Ravens:
For most of the season, the Browns' glaring weakness was the lack of a playmaker on offense. But it doesn't matter if Cleveland drafts Trent Richardson, Matt Barkley or Michael Floyd if Cleveland can't stop the other team's playmaker.
Fixing the run defense has to be as big a priority as finding someone to reach the end zone. The disturbing part was the Ravens' Ray Rice gained 204 yards without having to break too many tackles. Baltimore just put one blocker on each of the Browns' defenders in the front seven, which simply couldn't get off blocks.
The Ravens didn't run complicated schemes or use trickery. They rarely pulled their guards on the big runs and didn't run draws. It was physically beating up the Cleveland defense one-on-one.
"They just whipped us up front," Browns middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. "They embarrassed us. It was a slap in the face today."
But the Browns have been embarrassed all season by running backs. Cleveland has given up 100 yards to eight running backs this season, three more than any other team (according to ESPN Stats & Information).
In case you're wondering, the most 100-yard rushers allowed by any team in one year over the past 11 seasons is 12, by the 2008 Lions (thanks to Dan Braunstein from ESPN S&I for that). The Browns themselves allowed 11 in 2007, the second-most since 2001.
Some will argue that the struggles on run defense stems from the defense getting worn down because of the three-and-outs on offense. That wasn't the case against Baltimore. The Ravens beat up the Browns from the first snap (and outside the fourth-down stop), and Rice had over 100 yards by halftime.
This wasn't just a slap in the face. This was just another slap in the face for the Browns run defense.
STAT THAT STICKS: 3 -- Total 200-yard rushing performances by Ravens running backs (Rice and Jamal Lewis) against the Browns. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other teams with three 200-yard rushing performances against another franchise are the Bills against the Jets (Cookie Gilchrist, O.J. Simpson and Thurman Thomas) and the Rams against the Saints (Willie Ellison, Jerome Bettis and Marshall Faulk).
OVERHEARD: "If we do everything right, every play, then we can play with anybody." -- Browns quarterback Colt McCoy
WHAT'S NEXT: The Browns (4-8) go on the road Thursday night to play the Steelers (9-3). Cleveland is 5-16 (.238) on the road over the past three seasons.