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

Looking at the defensive snap counts in the Browns' 26-24 victory over the Falcons.

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Cleveland's defense performed reasonably well against the Falcons, forcing two turnovers in the first half (which the offense could only turn into six points despite the great starting field position). The snap count distributions for the Browns' defenders against the Falcons are listed below. [Week 12 offensive snap counts for Cleveland can be found here]

Defensive Line
Desmond Bryant Billy Winn Ahtyba Rubin Ishmaa'ily Kitchen Sione Fua
52/71 plays
42/71 plays
32/71 plays
19/71 plays
17/71 plays

Desmond Bryant: 3 tackles, 1 assist (4 combined). 1 tackle for loss, 1 quarterback hit, 1 fumble recovery.
Billy Winn: 2 tackles (2 combined).
Ahtyba Rubin: 2 tackles, 2 assists (4 combined). 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, 1 quarterback hit.
Ish'maaily Kitchen: 1 tackle, 2 assists (3 combined).
Sione Fua: 1 assist (1 combined).

Thoughts: During the week, either Mike Pettine or Jim O'Neil said that Ahtyba Rubin, who has been working through an injury, looked better in practice this week. It seemed to show on gameday, although Atlanta's lackluster offensive line probably helped matters too. Desmond Bryant came up with a fumble recovery and the middle of the line was plugged up most of the afternoon on run plays.

Inside Linebacker
Craig Robertson Chris Kirksey Tank Carder
71/71 plays
49/71 plays
1/71 plays

Craig Robertson: 7 tackles, 2 assists (9 combined).
Chris Kirksey: 4 tackles, 1 assist (5 combined).
Tank Carder: No stats registered.

Thoughts: If there was ever a stretch of games that Karlos Dansby could miss, it would've started this week against the Falcons because their running game isn't threatening to anyone, and the offensive line for Atlanta allows the pass rush to get to Matt Ryan quickly. Craig Robertson played the entire game and Tank Carder only saw one snap on defense. I'm sure the coaching staff's opinion of Robertson as a defender is improving by the week.

Outside Linebacker
Paul Kruger Barkevious Mingo Jabaal Sheard Eric Martin
66/71 plays
56/71 plays
20/71 plays
1/71 plays

Paul Kruger: 3 tackles (3 combined). 2 sacks, 1 tackle for loss, 2 quarterback hits, 1 forced fumble.
Barkevious Mingo: 1 pass defended.
Jabaal Sheard: 1 tackle (1 combined).
Eric Martin: No stats registered.

Thoughts: Whenever the opposition has a glaring problem at an offensive tackle position, Paul Kruger is able to deliver with a big game. He sacked Matt Ryan twice and forced a fumble while playing nearly the entire game. Barkevious Mingo saw a big workload, but it didn't translate to the stat sheet. Last week, we thought Jabaal Sheard would be out for the season. Instead, he was able to play through 20 much-needed plays this week on a foot injury.

Joe Haden Buster Skrine K'Waun Williams
Justin Gilbert
69/71 plays
69/71 plays
51/71 plays
8/71 plays

Joe Haden: 5 tackles (5 combined). 1 interception, 1 pass defended.
Buster Skrine: 3 tackles (3 combined). 2 passes defended.
K'Waun Williams: 5 tackles (5 combined). 1 quarterback hit.
Justin Gilbert: 1 tackle (1 combined). 2 passes defended.

Thoughts: The Falcons' first touchdown will be up for debate, but Joe Haden clearly bit for the run -- the question is whether he expected safety help or not. Haden made amends the rest of the game, notching an interception and not allowing Matt Ryan to connect on the deep ball to Julio Jones. K'Waun Williams was a force on two back-to-back blitzes in which he hit Ryan in the midsection twice but had the smarts to let up and not draw a flag (the gamebook only credits him with one quarterback hit).

Despite only playing eight snaps, rookie Justin Gilbert broke up two passes, including one in the first quarter on third down, and then Atlanta's final pass attempt of the game (to try to get a first down and eat more clock). Thankfully, Gilbert turned around just in time for that final play, otherwise the officials probably wouldn't have hesitated to call pass interference upon any contact with WR Devin Hester.

Donte Whitner Tashaun Gipson Jim Leonhard
Jordan Poyer
71/71 plays
56/71 plays
28/71 plays
3/71 plays

Donte Whitner: 1 tackle (1 combined). 1 pass defended.
Tashaun Gipson: 2 tackles, 1 assist (3 combined).
Jim Leonhard: 2 tackles (2 combined). 1 quarterback hit.
Jordan Poyer: No stats registered.

Thoughts: The safety play has been positive all season, but this game was a rare negative. First, you had Donte Whitner dropping a near for-sure pick six, and then later in the drive, Whitner might have blown the coverage on Atlanta's touchdown pass. Second, you had Tashaun Gipson, who is having a breakout year, suffer what looks to be a serious knee injury.

If Gipson is out the rest of the year, it'll be interesting to see what the Browns do at safety. I don't think they view Jim Leonhard as a starting player. I wouldn't be surprised if K'Waun Williams is moved into the starting free safety role with Justin Gilbert then getting more time at cornerback.