On the Bright Side, The Browns Defense

The Browns definitely missed Joe Haden yesterday.  Dimitri Patterson gave Raiders receivers a bit too much room and they made some catches in front of him.  That being said, the horror story that could have been written about the day the Browns were without Joe Haden wasn’t written because Patterson proved to be an adequate backup.  You don’t expect a guy to come in and replace a first round talent like Joe Haden.  You assume there will be a dropoff.  The quality of the backup is measured by how much of a dropoff it appears to be.  In this case, Dimitri Patterson did a fine job, I thought.  That’s the way I felt about the whole defense yesterday.

They got gashed badly on the Raiders’ first drive.  McFadden set the tone on the first play as he went for 24 yards.  The Raiders moved methodically after that.  Well, it helps to be methodical when you burn two timeouts on your opening drive, I guess.  The Raiders finally capped the 88-yarder off with a McFadden running score and a seven point lead.  That was really the only meaningful drive the Browns defense gave up all day.  The Raiders scored on a kickoff return and a fake field goal following a fumble.  Other than the one long drive to open the game, the Browns gave up a Janikowski field goal, but there is no shame in that.

Granted, we don’t know what would have happened had the Browns not knocked Jason Campbell out of the game.  Then again, Campbell hand-delivered a goofy fumble to the Browns before he exited.  Campbell was having a good year, but he is always capable of implosion.  We’ve seen it too many times before from quarterbacks of his caliber.

The Browns defense actually responded pretty well. Phil Taylor was penetrating.  Ahtyba Rubin was chasing down screen passes and meeting runners at the linebackers.  Jabaal Sheard wasn’t dominant, but he got pressure a few times including swiping the ball out of Kyle Boller’s hands.  The aforementioned Dimitri Patterson filled in pretty admirably for the Browns’ best secondary player.  Even on a quiet day the Browns linebackers made some highlight plays including D’Qwell Jackson blowing up a run play in the backfield.  Fujita legally tackling and knocking Jason Campbell out of the game isn’t a bad thing either.

I never root for a guy to get injured.  More specifically, I never root for one of the Browns to injure another player.*** It is a part of the game though, and as long as the Browns are playing good, tough football within the rules of the game I’ll take it.

While the Browns still have a lot of messes to clean up this week, it is worth pointing out that their defense is still playing at a pretty decent level, especially considering a nine minute deficit in time of possession thanks to the Browns offense.

——————-

Also, another small note on Chris Gocong’s contract.  Terry Pluto reported over the weekend that Gocong’s “gaudy” contract for $16.8 million dollars is only guaranteed for about $8 million. I know this deal was used as a bullet in the gun of folks who were criticizing the Browns for not getting Hillis’ deal done yet.  Sounds like it was still a great day to be Chris Gocong, but not nearly as great as some people were reporting or thinking.

(Photo AP – Ben Margot)

*** O.K. Maybe Ben Roethlisberger is an exception.

  • Vengeful Pat

    I have to disagree… the Browns defense was not good yesterday, they were lucky. There were two sacks for our defense, and other than that we got zero pressure on the Raiders’ QBs. There were so many snaps where Campbell and Boller got to sit in the pocket for 7-8 seconds before throwing the ball. Did Jayme Mitchell play yesterday? I didn’t notice him once in that game. Sheard was consistently forced upfield and out of the play on his speed rushes, other than the one where he managed to get his arm out far enough to strip the ball from a woeful Kyle Boller. If either Campbell or Boller were a tiny bit accurate as passers, the Browns would have been ripped to shreds. I mean every time we tried to blitz, the Raiders picked it up easily. I was getting so frustrated. I just don’t think anyone had a particularly good day for the Browns yesterday… maybe Maynard.

  • Boomhauertjs

    Even “Best Browns Draft Pick since 1999″ Ryan Pontbriant had a bad snap on a PAT.

  • -bobby-

    I would agree with Craig. I thought Patterson was what I expected. He let the guy make the catch and would be there for the tackle. Thats ok for me as a back-up. I think the OLBs are a step or two still slow. The DL wasnt bad, but I wouldnt say they had a good game. As a side, why is Rubin the first guy to a screen pass? shouldnt Fujita or Mitchell get out there before a DT does? But the name of the game is points and the D only gave up 10. Granted, they used Bush much of the game and Boller was at QB, Ill take it without a pro-bowler out there.

  • Harv 21

    @1: agree. We had a turnover on an unforced fumble recovery. Never came close to one even with a struggling rusty backup QB. Little pressure, even on blitzes. Without playmakers at linebacker or a ballhawk in the secondary, anemic offenses don’t pay for being predictable or being in third and long all day. They just punt and wait to get the ball back.

    Maybe Jauron just doesn’ have the personnel to do anything but play a vanilla defense that concentrates on not giving up a big play. But I’d love for us to have one effective blitz this season, not watch a RB stand up our LB cold.

  • Vengeful Pat

    Not including the play to run out the clock in the 2nd quarter, the Browns offense had 4 drives where they failed to pick up a first down. The Raiders only had 2 drives where they didn’t pick up a first down (or a touchdown). Both Oakland and Cleveland had 2 sacks, but Oakland had 6 QB hits… Cleveland only had 1. 1 G** D*** hit! I can hear Harry Doyle in the post-game report after that stinker.

  • Lyon

    I agree that Patterson did make the tackles when his man got the ball, but why not at least TRY to stop the man from catching the ball? I would’ve liked to have seen Skrine get a couple shots out there. He’s prety fast so you wouldn’t have to worry about heyward Bay flying by.

    I’ll give our defense this; they make not make it look nice, but they normally do hold the teams out of the endzone.

  • Vengeful Pat

    I’ve got to jump on this Patterson conversation as well… I’m sorry, but when you are a cornerback and you play 10-15 yards off the line of scrimmage every single time, man you’d better be able to make the tackle because they’re going to throw underneath on you all day long. And they did… 8 yards at a time. Patterson had a couple of plays where I thought he did a nice job, like on his pass deflection, but man the cushion he was giving is part of what allowed that Oakland offense to churn down the field and eat up clock. I expect better, even from a backup.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    Let’s get this straight. I am not saying this is the return of the Dawg defense. Just trying to point out that this team did some nice things on defense with one pretty significant injury against them. They gave the Browns offense a chance to win despite losing the time of possession battle. This is a relatively young defense with little depth and also playing in a new system. They deserve a bit of credit, I think.

  • TobaccoRoad

    Don’t wanna put words into Craig’s mouth but I think what he’s trying to say is that the defense isn’t the reason the Browns lost yesterday. In my opinion, that’s how it’s been since Mangini got here; the Browns usually lose games because they can’t score points.

    Yesterday, it was the offense and our special teams. Both of those special teams TDs were simply unacceptable.

    Patterson was giving way too much of a cushion to their WRs, but I’d much rather see 10-12 yard completions than a 60-yd TD thrown over his head, so I can live with it. Patterson wasn’t brought to Cleveland to be a starting DB, so it’s unfair to evaluate him as such.

  • TobaccoRoad

    This defense has absolutely exceeded expectations. I don’t think there’s any way to refute that. The Browns defense had one legitimately bad drive yesterday. That’s it.

    I said if the Browns held McFadden to less than 100 yds rushing, we’d be in great shape. They held McFadden to 93 yards TOTAL (46 yards on that first drive); he was averaging 168 yards per game coming into yesterday. Are we the best defense in the NFL? Clearly not, but the Defense did their job yesterday, as they’ve pretty much done all year (save the Tennessee game).

  • TobaccoRoad

    Everyone who watched that game yesterday is wondering how in the hell the Browns had a chance to send that game to OT despite the way they played.

    Since Jason Campbell isn’t a good enough QB to say his absence is the reason, the clear answer to that question is the Browns defense.

  • http://www.redright88.com Titus Pullo

    Craig’s in the ballpark on this one; the defense is not the problem here.

    The past two years under “defensive genius” Eric Mangini the Browns ranked 22nd and 31st; so far this year they are 7th (smaller sample size, of course).

    Now a lot goes into that (better players, better system, different opponents) but the defense is getting the job done for the most part.

    Now about that offense …

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    Im not really convinced the defense was all that good yesterday. I think they were avaerage in my opinion. We we’re facing their back-up QB for about half the game, we gave up 93 yds to McFadden and thats without who-know-how-many yards he would have racked up if we hadnt given up the kickoff return and they had been forced to actually have a drive, and they could have easily made it 13 points if they decided to kick a FG at the end there instead of trying to put us away with the run on 4th down. Patterson played literally about 10 yds off his man and if Boller was anything close to accurate he couldve had another 50 yds passing.

    That said, 10 pts is 10 pts. I would like to see more turnovers/big plays from the defense, but I suppose I cant be upset with them. Theyre the only part of the team at the moment that resembles an NFL product.

  • Big Z

    Considering the defense’s youth and the facts that they have a new coordinator, are playing in a new 4-3 system, no OTAs etc. I feel they’ve been most impressive (except for the Titans game). I’m excited to see how they improve over the next few years. They look ESPECIALLY good when compared to the offense!

    Almost very aspect of the offense worries me. The playcalling (although improved in this game), WRs, QB play (which is tied to the turnstiles that comprise our O-line), RBs (Montario can’t catch, Hillis hurt / never in the game plan / disgruntled) and O-line (DISGRACEFUL! even JT is having an off year) have been downright awful this year. They play one decent quarter of football every game. The worst part is that I watch every game wanting to re-instill my faith in Colt McCoy only to see him repeatedly hightail it out of the pocket to escape free blitzers, or to open-up their woeful wide receiving corps. He can’t even get help from the run game, which is supposed to be the Browns’ strongest offensive asset!

  • Thomas

    I think the defense did alright. I don’t think you can use the excuse of they used their back-up for most of the game as a reason for doing well. As you can see here, their back-up had a better rating than Colt, and Cambell was a few points higher than Boller.

    K. Boller 8/14 100 7.1 0 0 79.5

    C. McCoy 21/45 215 4.8 2 0 75.7

    I would like to give Colt some leeway by saying that the recievers are not “high caliber” but we are talking about 4-8 yard passes. Under 50% completion % is not going to cut it.

  • Vengeful Pat

    My point is that nobody should be let off the hook in this game. The defense definitely played the best out of the 3 units for the Browns… offense and special teams were pitiful (well, the return teams were pitiful… punting and field goals did well). I’m just saying that defense was not a bright spot. The defense deserves credit for a good season overall… I just don’t think they should be congratulated after that game. They forced zero turnovers (Campbell’s fumble was a gift… nobody forced it, much like McCoy’s), we got hardly any pressure on the QB, and we got ravaged in the time of possession battle. I just refuse to give the defense credit for “keeping us in the game”. We were in the game because Kyle Boller couldn’t complete passes to open receivers when it mattered and because Oakland’s offensive coordinator inexplicably gave touches to everyone but McFadden in a game where he was consistently getting positive yardage.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com Cleveland Frowns

    In the OBR piece linked at WWW this morning, Fred Greetham wrote that “WR Darius Heyward-Bey took Patterson to school all day allowing Heyward-Bey to catch six passes for 82 yards.”

    Also, Boller was objectively terrible yesterday. I don’t know why David Garrard isn’t a Raider yet.

  • Big Z

    @ vengeful pat – I agree with you for the most part, but I feel you’ve got to credit this very young defense for playing physically, competently, and with a genuine will to achieve throughout 4 quarters, even though the Raiders ran at them 40 times! Yeah, Patterson was exploited – he’s a UFA that participated in 0 minicamps / OTAs, has played in 4 games and was starting for the first time. Still, even he wrapped up and tackled without allowing a single big play. Add in the fact that our star defensive player was on the bench and Scott Fujita left the game early, and I think you have to be pleased with their performance.

  • Vengeful Pat

    @Big Z, although I respect the man you represent, I do not agree with your conclusions. I am not pleased with that performance by the defense. We were only missing one key player from our defense, which honestly is less than most teams have to deal with from Sunday to Sunday. I will credit this defense with a good job when they deserve it… I credit them for the wins over Miami and Indy. I think they did well in a loss to Cincy. I think you’re taking my one statement about Patterson as the reason why I think the defense failed, and that is not the case. They failed because they couldn’t pressure the quarterback. They failed because they couldn’t create turnovers. Patterson was a small piece of their failure as a unit, nothing more. I like our defense and I think they will be very good in time. Yesterday just wasn’t a good day for them.

  • crobarred

    @Frowns

    Garrard has a herniated disk and requires surgery. Jay Glazer reported it on Twitter and it was confirmed by Schefter.

  • mgbode

    “They got gashed badly on the Raiders’ first drive… That was really the only meaningful drive the Browns defense gave up all day.”

    I disagree. There were 2 important drives on the entire day. Drive1 where the Raiders set the tone for the day. And, the drive w/ 12:24 left in the game, where the Raiders ate up 8 minutes of game clock and left the Browns for dead on their own 5 yard line down by 14 (and really, they should have just kicked the FG and ended the day).

    Yes, the defense played good besides those 2 drives, but they were the most important drives of the day.

    All three phases get a failing grade yesterday.

  • Ike

    I don’t understand how the defense gets a failing grade while keeping McFadden under 100 yards total. For the Browns to win this game, that was exactly what they needed to do. Campbell or not, the Browns D held up their end of the bargain.

    This loss ie strictly on the offense and special teams, period.

  • mgbode

    Ok, maybe give them a C- instead of a fail then?

    the fact was that on the 2 most important drives of the game, the Browns defense wilted. yes, they kept McFadden largely in check (after the 1st drive). yes, they knocked Campbell out of the game (they do get credit for it). but, 12min to go, down by 14, the defense absolutely needed to get the ball back to the offense. instead the Raiders marched down the field, ate up 8min of clock and would have iced the game if Hue didn’t stupidly go for it on 4th down on our 5yd line (when a FG made it a 3score lead).

  • Vengeful Pat

    @Ike, sorry I can’t keep my mouth shut… you are praising the Browns defense for giving up 4.6 yards per carry to McFadden? That’s not good… the only reason he didn’t go for 100 yards is because the Raiders were stupid enough to give 10 carries to Michael Bush on a day where he wasn’t finding room. This loss is on everybody. Period.