Before we address that question, let’s take a moment to congratulate Joe Woods and his defense, which is now ranked at #4 in yards allowed. After being humiliated by the Patriots during Week 10, the Browns’ talented defensive players seem to have finally gelled in the three games since.
Make no mistake; this is something opposing teams should take note of. The Browns D is hot as a pistol, and that’s the only thing that counts this time of year. On Sunday, versus the Ravens, we were treated to a plethora of huge defensive plays:
- Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah’s tackle of Lamar Jackson, which knocked him out of the game. Any other blitzing linebacker wouldn’t have been able to get a hand on Jackson.
- Myles Garrett’s epic strip-sack-scoop-scoot-&-score.
- Takk McKinley’s strip-sack with the Ravens threatening on the Browns 12-yard line.
- Grant Delpit’s interception of a two-point conversion throw.
- Jadeveon Clowney’s sack with 1:11 left in the game.
- Denzel Ward’s tackle on 4th down that sealed the victory.
Joe Woods achieved this victory without three of his starters: LB Anthony Walker, CB Greg Newsome, and S Ronnie Harrison. The Browns defensive depth is pretty solid. Ironically, when you have lots of injuries, it serves as a rotation that actually builds depth over the course of the season. So, by time you get to the playoff run, the gelling doesn’t stop with the starters, but extends to your bench.
A few days before the game, Myles Garrett expressed his displeasure with how some of his teammates were practicing. Apparently, they sharpened-up, just like Myles requested. I think this is the third time he has done this sort of thing, and it has worked every time. Superb leadership.
Now, imagine if they had covered Mark Andrews…
Have the Ravens Cloned Lamar Jackson?
Lamar Jackson was knocked out of the Browns-Ravens rematch by a blitzing Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. He was replaced by Tyler Huntley who completed 71% of his 38 passes, with 1 touchdown, and 45 rushing yards in three quarters. There wasn’t much of a drop-off according to DE Jadeveon Clowney:
“He is a little quicker. He made the whole defense miss. He juked us all. I said on the sideline that I think we need Lamar back out here (laughter). I thought he was quick and just as good.”
To see what Clowney was talking about, see the 8:29 mark of this video.
So, the Browns’ victory was legit, and the Ravens look like they have made quite a find with Huntley.
There are a lot of similarities between last year’s game with the Raiders, and the re-match coming up on Saturday.
- The Browns were flying high after winning a shootout with Cincinnati where Baker Mayfield threw 5 touchdowns.
- The Browns were missing key offensive players; namely RB Nick Chubb and his road-grader RG Wyatt Teller.
- The weather in Cleveland precluded passing.
Oddly, the rematch is in Cleveland again this year, and the weather is forecast to be cold, wet, and windy, which is conducive to another defensive struggle in the trenches. And the Browns lost the struggle last year. This year, they have Nick Chubb, but Wyatt Teller is on the COVID-19 list along with a bunch of linemen and tight-ends: T Jedrick Wills, TE David Njoku, TE Austin Hooper, TE Ross Travis, G Drew Forbes.
Kareem Hunt was also injured, again, in the Ravens game, so right now, it looks like D’Ernest Johnson will be spelling Nick Chubb. WR Jarvis Landry and WR JoJo Natson are also on the list. With so many pass-catchers gone, maybe Rashard Higgins will get a target or two. Anything is possible.
While the Raiders are a team in disarray, and were smashed by the Chiefs 48-9 on Sunday, they were able to beat the first-place Cowboys 36-33 on Thanksgiving. If the Browns are without Wyatt Teller, Jedrick Wills, Jack Conklin, and their tight-ends, what is the running game going to look like? And if it is too windy to throw the ball accurately, what’s left for the offense? Not much.
Will the Browns have to rely on Myles Garret scoring another touchdown? Maybe. The Browns defensive players should go into the game with that in mind. They just might need to score some points to win this game. Stopping the Raiders might not be good enough. So, here is your mantra for the week:
Stop & Score.
Stop & Score.
Stop & Score.
Repeat one million times.