Editor's note: Tony Grossi covers the Cleveland Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR.
Up with Rubes: The Browns dumped lots of money and effort into improving their run defense and we know how that turned out.
They’ve barely nudged the meter, moving from 32nd against the rush last year to 29th through 13 games this year.
Meanwhile, one of the defensive players they chose to replace, tackle Ahtyba Rubin, has had a career renaissance in Seattle, where he has become an integral part of the Seahawks’ No. 2-ranked run defense.
This is what Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said about Rubin on Monday:
“He is as tough as you get. You can't move the dude and he pursues the football really well. I think he's been the most effective guy playing three-technique for us that we've had, and most consistent. He just won't budge. The harder it gets, the tougher he gets and the more he ain't going to move anywhere.
“That position in our defense, we play a lot of over defense, he's on the tight-end side a lot, and there's a lot of plays that go right at him and he gets doubled a bunch. He's fantastic at doing that, so he has been instrumental."
Rubin was one of six players with expiring contracts the Browns let walk to free agency last year. At 29, Rubin was coming off a big contract ($26.5 million over four years) and had his least productive season in seven with the Browns.
“He’s a tough guy,” coach Mike Pettine said. “There were times he would never say he was hurt, but I know Rube gutted through a lot and I think it affected his performance.”
Still, Pettine said the Browns may have brought Rubin back but they couldn’t arrive at “the right price.”
Rubin signed a one-year deal with Seattle for $2.6 million. He made $6.6 million in his last year with the Browns.
The Seahawks have given up 59 rushing yards the last two games -- total -- on 30 rush attempts.
Still no Bowe: There’s a new explanation for the Browns’ inability to incorporate receiver Dwayne Bowe into the offense.
So far we’ve heard Bowe’s lack of participation blamed on: 1. His hamstring injury in training camp; 2. His lack of a role on special teams; and 3. The disconnect between the coaching staff and GM Ray Farmer, who signed Bowe in free agency.
Now comes this one: “A big part of it is he only plays the one spot, the X, and Travis [Benjamin] has occupied that spot and played at a high level most of the year,” Pettine said.
The X receiver is the one split far to the weak side of the defense.
Pettine said Bowe’s skill set and body type make him exclusively an X.
“Our other guys know multiple positions,” Pettine said. “It’s tough.
“There’s frustration there, I’m sure, from both ends that it hasn’t worked out as we had hoped.”
Cut it loose: Pettine has used the phrase “cut it loose” to describe his team’s attitude heading into the Seattle game. So I asked exactly what he means by that.
“It’s the attitude,” he replied. “We’re not going up there and curl up in a ball. We’re going to compete.
“I thought our guys showed that this past Sunday [against the 49ers]. Where our season had gotten to, losing seven in a row.
We had two teams in very similar situations. You saw one team that wanted to be out there and compete and win a football game. I don’t know if I sensed that same attitude from the other side.”
Quick hitters: Left tackle Joe Thomas usually gets Wednesday off, but he may get Thursday as well, Pettine said, as a result of a knee injury. Pettine said he had no concern the injury would prevent Thomas from extending his streak to 142 consecutive games played. Thomas also has a streak of 8,763 offensive snaps. He has never come out of a game ... The coach empathized with running back Glenn Winston, who fumbled his first carry in two seasons with the Browns. Winston was introduced as a captain for the game against his former team. Winston later suffered a concussion on a kickoff and has not passed through protocol. “It was a tough day, but Glenn’s a tough kid and he’ll fight back from this,” Pettine said.