The Cleveland Browns have two games left against the class of the AFC North. I know we hate to say it because we despise the Ravens and the Steelers so much, but they are. There’s just no denying it. The Browns are also coming off a tough stretch of games for them. The Browns went from surprising the class of the league against New Orleans, New England and to an extent even in losing to the Jets.
They followed that up by placing their coach on a considerably warmer seat (real or imagined) in the media and on the Internet. There is no mistaking that the Browns are banged up and have some excuses. How many teams would expect to even win five games and be so close in so many others with three separate starting quarterbacks? And yet, we have no idea what to expect this week against Baltimore.
The Browns are better at home according to their record so far. They are 3-3 so far at home while 2-6 on the road. Does that mean anything?
Funny enough, we spend so much time talking about the Browns’ offense that probably isn’t even close to the key to their success. The Browns offense is a known entity with known problems. Even in hearing people complain about Peyton Hillis’ lack of carries last week in Cincy, I couldn’t help but point to the time of possession and scoreboard deficits.
The defense, though, has actually impressed at times this season. It has carried the team in multiple games almost completely. Imagine the New Orleans game if the defense had played like they did last weekend against Cincinnati. Imagine the New England game without the Browns’ defense forcing three turnovers.
I have a habit of obsessing on the Browns’ offense and their struggles. It might sound cliché, but that is probably largely a waste of time at this stage in the team’s development. This Browns team wins and competes by playing exceptional defense. When Browns fans were screaming Scott Fujita’s name, David Bowens’ name and Abe Elam’s name the Browns were competing. Add in Joe Haden and it should be pretty easy to see the key to whether or not the Browns will show up in a given week.
So I still don’t know if the Browns will show up this week against Baltimore or not. I am guessing they will try their hardest because they always seem to do that with Eric Mangini as their coach. That being said, I will look at the first defensive series and how that team is competing against the Baltimore offense rather than counting the number of three and outs that the Browns offense puts together. Some teams are led by their offense, but this year’s Browns team is quite clearly led by their defense. And Reggie Hodges.
Browns football! Defense and punting!