CBS Sports - No. 22 (down 2 spots)
Their defense just isn’t good enough right now. It doesn’t help that Jacoby Brissett isn’t helping at quarterback.
ESPN - No. 23 (down 5 spots)
The Browns finished the 2021 season in the top five in lowest opposing QBR (51.1), fewest net yards per passing attempt (5.97) and highest pass rush win rate (49.9%). With virtually every starter back, that was supposed to translate into an elite defensive unit this season. Instead, Cleveland’s defense has fallen apart. The Browns are well outside the top 10 in all three of the aforementioned categories. But most telling, they now rank 31st in defensive efficiency. The Browns do have the talent to turn it around. Yet nothing about their performances so far suggests that they will.
NFL.com - No. 25 (down 5 spots)
The Browns have major problems on defense, and it’s not getting better. The Patriots, led by fourth-round rookie Bailey Zappe, took it to Cleveland in a 38-15 thumping that brought out the boo birds at FirstEnergy Stadium. Pressure is building around head coach Kevin Stefanski, which could be bad news for defensive coordinator Joe Woods, who presides over a unit that has allowed 27.2 points per game (29th in the league). “Every way you can get beat — offense, defense, special teams, coaching — we got beat,” said Stefanski, attempting to spread the blame after the loss. “They beat us, and we also beat ourselves a few too many times.”
Sporting News - No. 26 (down 4 spots)
The Browns have hit a wall depending on Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. Their running game can carry them only so much when the defense isn’t cooperating with necessary complementary football. Their schedule will probably doom their season before Deshaun Watson can return.
Yahoo Sports - No. 25 (down 7 spots)
The Browns are a bad football team. Their two wins are over the Panthers (barely) and Steelers. They were just blasted at home by the Patriots’ third starting quarterback of the season, a fourth-round rookie. By the time Deshaun Watson returns, they might be irrelevant — and most people will not feel sorry for them.
Bleacher Report - No. 24 (no change)
The Cleveland Browns were beaten in every way a team can be beaten by the Patriots in Week 6, and head coach Kevin Stefanski was the first to admit it. “Every way you can get beat—offense, defense, special teams, coaching—we got beat,” Stefanski told reporters. “They beat us, and we also beat ourselves a few too many times.”
It was a hideous all-around effort. Cleveland quarterback Jacoby Brissett was atrocious, completing just 21 of 45 passes with a pair of interceptions. Nick Chubb, who entered the week leading the league in rushing, carried the ball just 12 times for 56 yards. Defensively, the Browns finally managed to stop the run with some measure of competence—only to allow a 300-yard passing day to rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe.
“Myles Garrett became Cleveland’s all-time sack leader Sunday,” Davenport wrote, “but that’s the only good thing that happened to the team’s beleaguered defense. Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is getting swallowed up at the point of attack because the interior of Cleveland’s defensive line is pillow-soft. Fellow linebacker Jacob Phillips has been horrible since taking over for Anthony Walker Jr. There’s a reason Cleveland traded for Deion Jones, but it’s going to take a lot more than that to fix the Browns defensively. At the rate things are going, I hope defensive coordinator Joe Woods rented instead of buying. Because his days on the job are probably numbered.”
The Ringer - No. 25 (down 4 spots)
Very surprisingly, the Browns have the third-ranked offense in EPA per drive, but there’s little reason to back the team long-term. Three of Cleveland’s six opponents this season rank 20th or worse in yards per game allowed, and their only two wins on the season have come against the Panthers and Steelers—the two least-efficient offenses in the NFL.
Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.