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

Looking at the defensive snap counts in the Browns' 17-13 loss to the Panthers.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns' defense still allowed the Panthers to run wild with Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton, but they held tough in the points department, only allowing 17 in the return of ILB Karlos Dansby. It wasn't enough to secure a win, though, thanks to another lackluster performance from the other side of the ball. Let's take a look back at the defensive snap counts from Week 16. [Week 16 offensive snap counts for Cleveland can be found here]

Defensive Line
Desmond Bryant Sione Fua Ishmaa'ily Kitchen Billy Winn Ahtyba Rubin
59/79 plays
45/79 plays
37/79 plays
36/79 plays
18/79 plays

Desmond Bryant: 1 tackle, 1 assist (2 combined).
Sione Fua: 3 tackles, 1 assist (4 combined).
Ish'maaily Kitchen: 5 assists (5 combined).
Billy Winn: 1 assist (1 combined). 1 interception, 1 pass defended.
Ahtyba Rubin: 1 tackle (1 combined).

Thoughts: With more injuries to the defensive line, that forced Fua to take on a bigger workload than usual. As I've been saying for a couple of weeks now, this unit will be overhauled in the offseason. The highlight of the game defensively came on Winn's diving interception, when we learned that Winn can trap a ball going to the ground better than Josh Gordon can.

Inside Linebacker
Karlos Dansby
Chris Kirksey Craig Robertson
79/79 plays
39/79 plays
35/79 plays

Karlos Dansby: 5 tackles, 7 assists (12 combined). 1 tackle for loss.
Chris Kirksey: 3 tackles, 2 assists (5 combined).
Craig Robertson: 2 tackles, 5 assists (7 combined).

Thoughts: Dansby didn't miss a single snap in his return to action and his presence was felt as the Panthers got down near the red zone. Robertson returned to his normal nickelback role, meaning the Browns continued to operate with he and Kirksey playing distinct roles.

Outside Linebacker
Barkevious Mingo Paul Kruger Jabaal Sheard Scott Solomon
52/79 plays
52/79 plays
30/79 plays
26/79 plays

Barkevious Mingo: 1 tackle, 1 assist (2 combined).
Paul Kruger: 3 tackles, 4 assists (7 combined). 1 tackle for loss.
Jabaal Sheard: 2 tackles (2 combined).
Scott Solomon: 2 tackles, 2 assists (4 combined). 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, 1 forced fumble.

Thoughts: It's not a good look when a guy signed off the street out-performs the guys who have been playing all season:

As DBN's Tim Miller noted during the game, though, Solomon had a good matchup advantage for that particular game. The outing itself seemed very reminiscent of when Matt Roth was signed off the street several years ago and did the same thing.

Buster Skrine Pierre Desir
Justin Gilbert Robert Nelson
77/79 plays
76/79 plays
17/79 plays
9/79 plays

Buster Skrine: 2 tackles (2 combined).
Pierre Desir: 7 tackles (7 combined). 2 passes defended.
Justin Gilbert: No stats registered.
Robert Nelson: No stats registered.

Thoughts: Desir started in place of Haden and played most of the game. He didn't have a lights out performance, but if you took the tape of how awkward he looked in the preseason and how comfortable he looked against Carolina, it would be night and day. Gilbert is still having some practice week issues, whatever those may be, that are keeping him from having a larger role.

Donte Whitner Jim Leonhard
Jordan Poyer
79/79 plays
77/79 plays
26/79 plays

Donte Whitner: 5 tackles, 3 assists (8 combined).
Jim Leonhard: 4 tackles, 1 assist (5 combined).
Jordan Poyer: 1 assist (1 combined).

Thoughts: It's a shame that Poyer wasn't credited with a touchdown when he took the ball from teammate Billy Winn after his interception. Poyer went up to Winn immediately as he rolled over, but the heads up play was not rewarded.