The Cleveland Browns have followed a frustrating formula this season in their games outside of the AFC North Division.
The weekly baggy-pants farce has played out like this:
- Have some form of breakdown, mostly on defense, like communication issues that result in blown coverages or a complete inability to stop the run.
- Talk after the game about how they need to fix the situation.
- Spend time during the practice week talking about how the extra work they are putting in will solve the issue.
- Go out on Sunday and continue to have some form of breakdown, mostly on defense, that leaves everyone searching for answers.
- Lather, rinse, and repeat.
It was more of the same on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins as the Browns somehow allowed a team that came into the game averaging fewer than 90 rushing yards to rip off 195 yards on the ground, the fourth time in the past six games that the defense has allowed more than 150 rushing yards.
Defensive end Myles Garrett kicked things off after the game by saying the team needs to have better focus (quote via cleveland.com):
“We really need to just focus in a little bit more and that’s where we’re going to get back to doing. We have that kind of energy when we’re ready to attack, but everybody’s gotta be focusing and going all in the right direction, all on the same page.”
On Monday, safety John Johnson III stressed that it is getting late and if the Browns still hope to stay in the playoff hunt they just need to chill out (quote via The Beacon Journal):
“We got to look ourselves in the mirror as a group and right the ship and get this thing going. At this point, there’s not really much to lose. You just got to go out there, have fun, look up at the scoreboard and see what happens. [We need to be] cutting it loose, have fun, enjoy what you’re doing, understand why we’re doing certain things and just do it at a high level. I think just don’t be so uptight.”
One area that might help slow down the running attack of opposing offenses, according to head coach Kevin Stefanski, is providing the players with a gameplan for success (quote via a team-provided transcript):
“We have to work hard to make sure that we are aware of where we need to be, and we have to make sure that we are giving our guys a plan that they can go out, execute and play fast. We have done it at times. So much of run defense is when you are playing fast and you are playing physical. Certainly, have seen that at times, but we just did not do that yesterday and have to do it more consistently.”
That actually sounds like a great thing for defensive coordinator Joe Woods and his staff to get to work on, but here we are all the same with a defense that can’t get out of its own way most weeks.
Wide receiver Amari Cooper, who is experiencing what it means to be a part of the Browns for the first time, provided perhaps the best perspective on the situation when he pointed out that talk is cheap and what really matters is what you do on the field (quote via The Beacon Journal):
“I believe we’ve got the guys in this locker room to turn things around. I’ve been on teams where we’re in the similar predicament and it was turned around and we went on a run. But the thing about greatness, you’ve got to put it on display. Everybody has greatness in them, but greatness is put on display. Some people don’t put it on display, even though it’s in them. I think this team has to find a way to put it on display. It’s in us, we just got to find a way to put it on display.”
One area the Browns have been really good at this season is talking about how they are going to fix the various problems that ail the team on a weekly basis. What they have had trouble with is actually fixing those problems come game day.
It is growing late once again for the team to turn things around, however, so the time has come for less talking and more doing if they hope to salvage anything positive from the rest of the season.