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Browns offense struggling on 2nd down, defense struggling in 4th quarter

Two key areas need addressed to beat the Bills Sunday

Cleveland Browns OTAs Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

As the Cleveland Browns look to take on the Buffalo Bills Sunday, the team’s 3-6 start has been disappointing, to say the least. A missed field goal here, a missed onside kick there, a terrible defense often and a costly turnover here and there have all led to the loss.

While few are giving the Browns a chance on Sunday, their run game and Buffalo’s struggles to practice this week provide some hope. Getting TE David Njoku back, hopefully, will also help.

While there are a variety of reasons Cleveland has lost specific games, the overall data from the first nine contests this year show some interesting trends. The Browns have been very bad on second down on the offensive side of the ball:

Interestingly, the Browns offense is one of the few with only one down with negative EPA over the first 10 weeks of the season. Obviously, the teams with the best records in the NFL are positive or neutral on all four downs.

Quality play on second down tends to make things easier on third down and give opportunities for big plays throughout the game.

On the defensive side of the ball, Cleveland has literally been the worst in the fourth quarter:

Whether those league-high 92 points are due to a lack of adjustments, players getting tired or just a failure in crunch time, it is concerning that the team falls apart at the most important time. DE Myles Garrett pointed out how much the Miami Dolphins seemed to adjust for them specifically last week. Are the Browns doing enough of that on their side?

In the end, ‘why’ doesn’t matter as much as ‘what?’ in Week 11. Cleveland just needs to get it done against one of the better teams in the NFL. Being successful on second down and closing the game out on defense will be vital.

Either of these stats surprise you?