Browns' defense getting all-too-familiar with adversity

Mike Wilkening
Pro Football Weekly
Browns' defense getting all-too-familiar with adversity

A healthy, stout defense might have been the Browns’ greatest asset in 2011. Seven-of-11 Week One starters were in the lineup for all 16 games as the Browns finished in the top 10 in several key defensive categories, including passing yards allowed and points surrendered. This season, however, the Browns’ defense has had to deal with adversity at too many turns, and the yards and points have piled up against Cleveland.

The latest blow was the loss of MLB D’Qwell Jackson to a concussion in the Week Five loss to the Giants. Jackson, who will have to go through the NFL-required concussion protocols to return to the field, has been the Browns’ top defensive playmaker this season, notching three sacks and intercepting a pair of passes.

The Browns surrendered 24 points in a little more than a half without Jackson in the lineup on Sunday, though they were having a world of trouble getting stops against New York even with their top linebacker in the middle.

The Browns’ pass defense, so solid a season ago, again struggled in defeat, with WR Victor Cruz catching three TDs. With CB Joe Haden serving a four-game NFL suspension in Weeks 2-5, opponents teed off on the Browns’ pass defense, completing 99-of-149 passes for 1,141 yards with 10 TDs.

Haden will be back in Week Six — but will Jackson be in the lineup for the rematch with rival Cincinnati? It has been one hurdle after another for Pat Shurmur’s club, which won't have DT Phil Taylor (pectoral) back until at least Week Seven and lost key LB Chris Gocong to a knee injury in training camp.