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Browns vs. Patriots: Analyzing the Snap Counts (Defense)

Looking at the defensive snap counts in the Browns' 27-26 loss to the Patriots.

Jared Wickerham

The Browns' defense played like the physical unit I had been hoping to see against the Steelers and Jaguars the past two weeks. They shut down the Patriots' offense...until the officials decided to intervene in the final two minutes of the game. The snap count distributions for the Browns' defenders against the Patriots are listed below. [Week 14 offensive snap counts for Cleveland can be found here]

Defensive Line
Ahtyba Rubin Armonty Bryant Billy Winn Phil Taylor John Hughes Ishmaa'ily Kitchen
56/83 plays
40/83 plays
39/83 plays
27/83 plays
25/83 plays
6/83 plays

Phil Taylor: 1 tackle, 1 assist (2 combined). 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass defended.
Ahtyba Rubin: 3 tackles (3 combined). 1 quarterback hit.
John Hughes: 1 tackle (1 combined). 1 fumble recovered.
Armonty Bryant: 1 assist (1 combined).
Billy Winn:
1 quarterback hit.
Ishmaa'ily Kitchen: No stats registered.

Thoughts: This game saw a big change in snap count percentages, thanks to the absence of DE Desmond Bryant. Ray Horton said he hoped to get Armonty Bryant 22 to 35 snaps, but he actually got more than that with 40 snaps. DE Billy Winn also saw a significant uptick in playing time, while NT Phil Taylor didn't see as many reps.

Inside Linebacker
D'Qwell Jackson Craig Robertson
83/83 plays
41/83 plays

D'Qwell Jackson: 4 tackles, 5 assists (9 combined). 1 intercepted, 1 pass defended.
Craig Robertson: 1 tackle, 3 assists (4 combined).

Thoughts: LB D'Qwell Jackson traveled a long distance in zone coverage to undercut a dig route on a pass thrown by Tom Brady. LB Craig Robertson made his return to action and had some nice plays, but people will remember him for being victimized by Shane Vereen to get the Patriots' offense going.

Outside Linebacker
Paul Kruger Jabaal Sheard
Barkevious Mingo
Eric Martin Paul Hazel
59/83 plays
58/83 plays
42/83 plays
5/83 plays
1/83 plays

Paul Kruger: 2 tackles, 2 assists (4 combined). 2 sacks, 1 tackle for loss, 2 quarterback hits, 1 pass defended, 1 forced fumble.
Barkevious Mingo: 2 tackles, 2 assists (4 combined). 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, 1 quarterback hit.
Jabaal Sheard: 1 tackle, 1 assist (2 combined). 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, 1 quarterback hit.
Paul Hazel: No stats registered.
Eric Martin: No stats registered.

Thoughts: FINALLY. We've waited way too long for some impact plays from Paul Kruger, Jabaal Sheard, and Barkevious Mingo. With the assistance of a third-string right tackle for the Patriots, all three Browns defenders delivered in one game. The sacks were meaningful, too, preventing the Patriots from kicking a field goal, resulting in a turnover, etc. Kruger also did a good job helping break up two bubble screen passes for wide receivers.

Joe Haden Buster Skrine Leon McFadden
Julian Posey
83/83 plays
83/83 plays
57/83 plays
16/83 plays

Joe Haden: 3 tackles, 1 assist (4 combined).
Buster Skrine: 2 tackles, 1 assist (3 combined).
Leon McFadden: 4 tackles, 3 assists (7 combined).
Julian Posey: 1 tackle (1 combined).

Thoughts: I need to go back to review the tape, but it looked like Leon McFadden was being targeted late in the game by Tom Brady. Upon first glance, I thought McFadden did a fine job in his first real regular season action, and I look forward to seeing him more in the coming weeks.

T.J. Ward
Tashaun Gipson Jordan Poyer
83/83 plays
83/83 plays
26/83 plays

T.J. Ward: 3 tackles, 5 assists (8 combined).
Tashaun Gipson: 2 tackles, 3 assists (5 combined).
Jordan Poyer: 5 tackles (5 combined).

Thoughts: It's a shame that two young defensive backs who played pretty well -- McFadden and Jordan Poyer -- were targeted by officials in the final two minutes for penalties they did not commit. The Browns used T.J. Ward in an inside linebacker type of role at times, and when that happened, Poyer went to his spot at safety. Horton mixed things up this week, and it worked -- mostly -- against Brady and company. Ward also had the crushing hit to Rob Gronkowski's knee, obviously. I wish ACL injuries could just never happen.