BEREA, Ohio -- Jim O’Neil broke down the Cleveland Browns run defense in every way he could during the bye week, and the team’s defensive coordinator said the struggles are because of different mistakes by different people.
The Browns are giving up 425 yards per game (30th in the league), 153.7 rushing (29th).
“It was good over the bye week to show the guys that if one guy breaks structure or one guy’s not getting his job done what can happen with explosive plays in the run and pass game,” O’Neil said on the day the Browns make their coordinators available. “Great defenses aren’t great because they have a bunch of great individual players -– they play great together and everybody gets their job done. It was good for the coaches to see it. It was good for the players to see it.”
If it were one guy or one call, it would be easier to identify -- and fix.
“You just don’t call that defense or you bench that one defensive player,” O’Neil said.
Thus the mantra O’Neil and head coach Mike Pettine have stressed to the team all week: Just do your job.
Other tidbits from the coordinators as they prepare for the Titans:
Special teams coach Chris Tabor said the film will decide the long snapper for Sunday. The Browns brought in Charley Hughlett and are holding a “snap-off” during practice to see who should play in Tennessee. Said Tabor: “It’s something that if you don’t get it corrected or you don’t address immediately, it can become a serious problem.”
The praise for Tennessee defensive tackle Jurrell Casey has been effusive. “He’s as good as we’ve seen on film this season,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said.
O’Neil addressed the play of several players, and said all are playing better than the stats show. He said Phil Taylor is tying up blockers and Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin have been “solid inside.” He added: “Most of our issues have happened at other places in the defense.”
On Joe Haden, O’Neil said: “I think it’s unfair to say he’s not playing well based on four plays this year. I think that if Joe could have a couple of plays back this year and if our coaching staff could have a couple plays back this year, I think that we would all welcome that opportunity, but Joe draws the hardest assignment on our defense every week. He probably draws the hardest assignment of anybody in the NFL every week of what we’re asking him to do. Joe’s looked great and he’s looked like a dominant corner at times, but in critical situations, like I said, he needs to make some of those plays.”
Tabor admitted that Travis Benjamin made a large mistake not fielding a punt late in the loss to Baltimore. Benjamin said the wind took the ball and he didn’t want to reach for it. “You have to catch the football,” Tabor said. “End of story.” What’s interesting is the Browns didn’t use Jim Leonhard in that situation. Coach Mike Pettine has repeatedly called Leonhard one of the best punt catchers he’s been around.