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Cleveland Browns Progress Report Part Two: Defense and Coaching
With the Cleveland Browns Week 10 bye week come and gone, here is part two of the bye week report card for the Cleveland Browns 2013 season. If you missed out on part one, click here.
Joe Haden is the obvious standout of this group, however Buster Skrine and T.J. Ward have each elevated their game in different aspects. Skrine might be the most improved player on the team, proving to be a competent CB2 opposite of Haden. Ward has been a big asset in stopping the run, leading all NFL safeties in run stops, both overall (20) as well as within eight yards of the line of scrimmage (12). On the flip side, Tashaun Gipson and Chris Owens have had their struggles in pass coverage, although Owens had an impressive game against Baltimore and has shown the ability to get to the quarterback notching 2.5 sacks and one additional QB pressure. Quality depth is still an issue, but this unit has made strides from last year.
If this grade was based on potential maybe it would be higher.
While they have done well as a unit in terms of pass rushing, nobody has emerged as a premier pass rusher. That’s not necessarily troublesome considering as a whole they are pretty good, but this unit lacks the wrecking ball from the outside (think Kansas City’s Tamba Hali).
This unit has also been horrible in pass coverage outside of D’Qwell Jackson, who hasn’t really been a standout here either. While he’s done a decent job in run support, Craig Robertson has been the worst inside linebacker in the NFL in terms of pass coverage. He’s allowed 40 receptions (on 45 passes into his coverage), 396 yards (293 yards after the catch) and four touchdowns in 326 coverage snaps. All of these are the most allowed by any inside linebacker in the NFL (tied with Sean Lee of Dallas in TDs allowed). He’s also missed five tackles in pass coverage, which ties him for fourth among inside linebackers. As a whole this unit has a lot of potential (and has had success) in terms of rushing the quarterback, however they must get better overall in run support and coverage.
Defensive Line: A
This has been the best unit not only on defense but on the team so far this season. They are able to get after the quarterback, generating 68 total quarterback pressures–but the real story of this unit is run stoppage. Simply put, teams cannot run on this unit as opposing offensive lines cannot bump them off the line of scrimmage. This unit’s biggest asset is quality depth, as they are able to rotate in starting caliber players throughout an entire game.
It’s next to impossible to give an A grade to the coaching staff when the team has a losing record, however head coach Rob Chudzinski and his staff have done a very good job overall with this young team. The two blemishes come on the offensive side of the ball in the handling of the quarterback position (not benching Weeden sooner) and the lack of ground game. However, considering Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner probably wanted to really see what they had in Weeden and considering they have no real talent in at the running back position this is somewhat excusable.
On the defensive side of the ball, defensive coordinator Ray Horton has done a fantastic job, and some feel the best is still yet to come. Horton himself has alluded that he still hasn’t completely opened things up in terms of pressuring the quarterback. The biggest concern here is whether or not Horton will be back next season as there is a chance he finds himself the head coach of another NFL team.
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