The Cleveland Browns offense has struggled more often than not through the first five games of the NFL season.
That reality would be a little easier to stomach if the defense was not following suit.
As the Browns prepare for Sunday’s home game against the Seattle Seahawks, the numbers are not pretty as the defense is currently ranked:
- No. 18 in yards allowed per game with 357.2
- No. 21 in points allowed per game with 24.4
- No. 29 in rushing yards allowed per game with 150.8
- No. 29 in yards per carry allowed at 5.2
- No. 21 in passing rating allowed at 99.4
One of the few areas where the defense is actually producing is in sacks, as the Browns are currently at No. 6 in the league with 16, led by defensive end Myles Garrett’s seven sacks.
That should not come as a big surprise as head coach Freddie Kitchens called the defensive line of Garrett, defensive end Olivier Vernon, and defensive tackles Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi the “strength of the team” while everyone was fawning over the offense during the preseason.
Still, the defensive line has yet to really have a game-altering afternoon this season, but that could change against the Seahawks.
Seattle is hurting along the offensive line as starting left tackle Duane Brown and starting right guard D.J. Fluker are both listed as doubtful for the game, and backup center/guard Ethan Pocic has been ruled out, according to seahawks.com.
Things are so bad that the Seahawks were down to just six healthy linemen before promoting guard Jordan Roos from the practice squad. That group of six includes right tackle Germain Ifedi, who comes into the game ranked No. 150 in pass blocking by Pro Football Focus, according to clevelandbrowns.com.
Cleveland still has to contend with Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, of course, and all Wilson has done so far this season is complete 73.3 percent of his passes, toss 12 touchdowns against zero interceptions, average 281.8 passing yards per game and post a quarterback rating of 126.3.
To counter that, the Browns need to get Wilson on the ground, Garrett told clevelandbrowns.com:
“Guys have to keep on playing, keep on rushing until he is completely down and make sure that you have him wrapped out and try to get the ball out because if you do not, he is going to find a way to escape and he is going to find someone eventually. You have to plaster on the back because you never know. You think the play is over and you have two guys on him and he slips out and your guy is running free, finds him, hits him and it is a quick six.”
The Browns have the talent on the defensive line to make life unpleasant for Wilson and the Seahawks on Sunday. And with the injuries along the offensive line, the opportunities should be there for some game-changing plays.
Cleveland’s offense can use a boost, and Sunday’s game presents a perfect time for the defense to take over a game and relieve some of the pressure that the offense has been feeling all season.