Cleveland Defensive Woes
The Cleveland Browns come into Sunday’s tilt with the Chicago Bears with much to prove on the defensive side of the ball. Through the first two weeks of the season, the new-look defense that got a complete overhaul in the off-season has not lookup up to par. If Tyrod Taylor does not go down with an injury before halftime, last Sunday’s contest could have gone either way. Cleveland’s lack of blitzing so far this season has been a point of discussion, as they now have the athletes to alter a game with a single play on defense. 3rd down defense has also been a problem for Cleveland as they rank dead last in the NFL in that statistic through two contests. These alterations ultimately fall on defensive coordinator Joe Woods, who will have to figure out a way to contain opposing offenses.
Week 3 Injury Report
The Browns are dealing with a few injuries to core pieces heading into Sunday despite benefitting from the return of wideout Odell Beckham Jr. All signs point to Beckham being active on Sunday as he will make his first start since tearing his ACL in Week 6 last season. The returning Beckham will give the Browns a boost at wide receiver as Jarvis Landry recovers from a sprained MCL. Look for Kevin Stefanski to try to get the ball in Beckham’s hands early and often on Sunday with designated play calls that go his way.
Jedrick Wills comes into Week 3 with a questionable designation due to his ankle injury, but he should be able to give it a go after participating in practice on Friday. Starting linebacker Sione Takitaki has been ruled out with a hamstring injury. This will force Cleveland to rely on rookie Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the meantime. With Justin Fields being a dual-threat quarterback who likes to use his legs to hurt opposing defenses, look for Owusu-Koramoah’s speed to play a factor. Starting center JC Tretter also comes into the game as questionable, but that has seemingly become a weekly occurrence dating back to last season.
Chicago is a franchise that has relied heavily on their defensive prowess over the last number of seasons, and this year should be no different. Linebackers Roquan Smith, Robert Quinn, and Khalil Mack will present a unique challenge for a Browns’ offensive line that ranks near the top of all units in the entire league. After a setback in Week One, the Bears’ defense rebounded with a terrific performance at home versus Cincinnati in which they allowed just 17 points while forcing three Joe Burrow interceptions. Offensively, the Bears will rely heavily on running back David Montgomery in both the run and pass game. Montgomery had 23 touches last Sunday resulting in 79 yards from scrimmage. Cleveland’s entire defensive unit must be locked into where Montgomery is on the field at all times as he is not only Chicago’s most used player on offense, but a rookie quarterback’s best friend is a successful run game. Expect a heavy dose of Montgomery from Chicago.