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The Cleveland Browns’ 2021 Defense: Identity? Quarters?

Plus a brief look at defending Lamar Jackson

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Chargers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It is no secret that the 2021 Cleveland Browns defense has struggled to play up to the level of its talent. Consistency has been an issue. Adjustments have been an issue at times. Execution has been an issue. Injuries have been an issue. And the defensive scheme certainly hasn’t been perfect.

But it is clear that the coaches are trying from week to week to make adjustments. We obviously run different coverages, and change from our base Cover-3 at times–no pro team sits in one coverage the entire game.

But more than just coverages, we’ve tried to change the way that we play. Despite using a spot-dropping approach most of the time, we have seen the Browns attempt to roll out elements of a pattern matching coverage. This is sort of like a “matchup zone” where a defense gains the best elements of man to man (tight coverage) and zone (not getting picked).

As you can see in the video below, this can be a lot to ask of your players. When there’s too much to teach, too much to practice, and to much to remember on the field, breakdowns occur.