It hurt to watch this game. When your team scores 27 points in the NFL, it should be enough to go home with a victory. Yet the Browns' defense failed to do the job once again. Don't get me wrong, it's managed to keep the team in games throughout the season, but it's also failed to stand tall when those games were on the line.
How bad was the Cleveland defense on Sunday? The unit allowed 502 total yards, including 243 rushing yards against New York. Giants quarterback Eli Manning torched the Browns for 259 yards and three touchdowns passes to receiver Victor Cruz. There aren't many teams in the NFL that can win games with those kind of numbers, and Cleveland isn't one of them.
What really irks me is that the Browns have one of the most well-respected defensive coordinators in the league in Dick Jauron. He's almost always produced great defenses regardless of the personnel on the roster.
But this year is different. The Browns were struck early by injuries to defensive tackle Phil Taylor and linebacker Chris Gocong. The team has managed to get some decent play from its other linebackers in Gocong's absence, but losing Taylor has drastically affected the team's ability to stop the run. Fortunately, he should return at some point this season, but the damage is done. The Browns are 0-5, and there's little hope for salvaging the 2012 season.
Another issue is Joe Haden's suspension. Words cannot express how important Haden is to the defense. He's a true shutdown corner, and the Browns haven't been the same without him. I guarantee that Victor Cruz wouldn't have torched Haden for three touchdowns like he did to the rest of the Cleveland secondary.
The Browns may have been able to combat these problems if there was more depth on the roster. Instead, the team has relied on countless rookies and little known players to make plays. Furthermore, the relative youth of the defense has led to multiple stupid penalties that have hamstrung the Browns throughout the season.
Despite all of these issues, I haven't given up on Jauron or his defense. Taylor and Haden will be back soon, and I'm hopeful that linebacker D'Qwell Jackson will make a quick recovery from his concussion. If all three players are able to make successful returns, then I think the defense will drastically improve. Well, I hope it does.
A native of Northeast Ohio, Derek Ciapala has been following the Browns since 1987. He has been published on Yahoo! Sports, GatewayMMA.com and multiple other websites. You can check him out on Facebook or Twitter @dciapala.
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Cleveland Browns
- the Browns