For the first time in a long time, it feels like the Cleveland Browns have found an identity. Despite all the changes on offense with two key positions, the defense has remained the same. So, just how is defensive coordinator Ray Horton slowly making opponents aware of his defense?
Through three games the swarming Browns defense is ranked in the top ten in five of the six top defensive categories.
Total Yards/Game = 300 7th
Rushing Yards/Gam = 84.3 8th
Rushing Yards/Carry = 2.0 2nd
Sacks = 12 3rd
Passing Yards/Game = 215.7 13th
Points/Game = 15.7 5th
So, where is the argument? Well, the Miami Dolphins seem to be the real deal with a 3-0 record to start the season so you can’t say they are the reason. Even without their iconic leaders, the Baltimore Ravens are 2-1 and still look like a legitimate football team. Together, those two teams are 5-1. The Minnesota Vikings, a playoff team a year ago, are the only team the Browns have played that have not won a game. These were all three very different teams that faced a grungy Browns defense and had trouble at times.
The question remains though – can the Cleveland defense, full of rising talent, do this for 13 more games? The question instead should be – why can’t they?
The Browns defensive front is as loaded and deep as its ever been in the last 14 years. When guys off the bench are producing its always a positive sign. The Browns defense has eight players with at least one sack. 2012 Draft Picks, Billy Winn and John Hughes, are playing very well. Add first round draft pick Barkevious Mingo to the mix and these are three players that don’t even start. The Browns added another six sacks in yesterday’s win over the Vikings.
With only four active corner backs, you could argue and say they need help at the corner back position. However, the Browns are ranked eighth in the NFL with 6.3 passing yards per attempt. The Cleveland secondary has yet to give up a pass over 40 yards and has given up 20+ yard passes just eight times. If there’s room for a boost, it would be in the interception category. Cleveland has just two on the season.
So, is it safe to say that the orange-and-brown have developed an identity? You decide, but remember, the numbers never lie.
Ryan Ruiz is the Cleveland Browns Beat Writer for The Inscriber: Digital Magazine. You can follow him on Facebook: Ryan (BrownsWriter) Ruiz and Twitter @ryanpruiz24. Ryan is also a Browns correspondent for The Sportsfix. Tune in every Friday at noon on www.thesportsfix.net.