Lamar Jackson rocks Browns’ stingy defense for two first-half rushing touchdowns

The Browns hadn’t allowed a single rushing touchdown this season. Then, Lamar Jackson happened.

Coming into Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, the Cleveland Browns’ defense had been completely amazing against the run. Jim Schwartz’s charges had allowed just 56 yards and no touchdowns on 14 carries, for a 2.6 yards per carry average.

That said, Schwartz came into this game completely aware of the dangers Lamar Jackson presents as a runner.

“Because he’s one of the best athletes in the NFL that just happens to play the quarterback position,” Cleveland’s defensive coordinator said this week when asked about Jackson’s ability to break tackles on the ground. “So, if we saw running backs doing that, we wouldn’t bat an eye. We’ve got to tackle him like he’s a running back. Tackle him like he’s a wide receiver. Just because the ball is in his hand doesn’t mean that he’s still not a threat to run. So I think that probably has a lot to do with it, and we’re going to try to be physical if he does run. We’re going to try to play our game and put some hits on him and those kinds of things.

“But you got to tackle him like he’s a running back. And if you half step, if you play too cautious, or a guy like that, if he pumps you off your feet. We’re not playing good defense if you see guys leave their feet on the quarterback, right, because he’s just going to pull it and he’s going to fly past and he’s going to make a big play. So, we got to stay on our feet. We got to tackle through his midsection, and we got to get him on the ground like he’s a running back.”

So far, it hasn’t worked out that way. Jackson scored two rushing touchdowns in the first half alone.

Browns TE David Njoku arrives in full mask after suffering facial burns

David Njoku with quite the entrance before Ravens-Browns

Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku suffered burns to his arms and face in an accident at his home around a firepit.

He said he wanted to play on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC North clash.

When he arrived at the stadium, he was dressed for Halloween, only it wasn’t meant to be funny or scary.

Njoku was wearing a full-on face mask. The team was concerned whether the tight end would be able to get his helmet on and play comfortably.

Grant Delpit and the Browns’ pass defense could give Lamar Jackson serious problems

The Browns’ defense is playing off the charts right now, and safety Grant Delpit is a key factor. Greg Cosell and Doug Farrar break it down.

Through the first three games of the 2023 NFL season, the Cleveland Browns are playing defense at a level we rarely see. The 3-0 Browns rank first in Defensive DVOA, and they have the sixth-best DVOA through the DVOA era, which goes back to the early 1980s.

The numbers are pretty insane. Cleveland ranks first in net yards per passing attempt allowed at 3.5. The NFL average is 5.9. They’ve allowed 14 first downs in the passing game – the NFL average is 32.2. They’ve allowed 2.8 yards per rushing attempt – the NFL average is 4.1. They’ve allowed one passing touchdown. The NFL average is 3.9. 

We know about Myles Garrett, Za’Darius Smith, and all those pass-rushers — we’ve discussed that before. It’s time to turn our attention to what the Browns are doing on the back end, because their pass defense — albeit against Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Tennessee Titans offenses that have struggled to bust a grape at times — is particularly obscene.

Per Sports Info Solutions, that pass defense has allowed an opponent passer rating of 61.1 — only the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys have been better. Their Yards per Coverage Snap of 4.2 leads the league. Their Passing EPA allowed of -40.68, and their EPA Per Play allowed of -0.42 are both second-nest behind the Bills, their Positive Play Rate Allowed of 24.5% is by far the NFL’s best (the Cowboys rank second at 35.2%), and on and on and on.

So, let’s turn to the Browns’ secondary, and detail how that’s working so well. We must start with safety Grant Delpit, who’s playing out of his mind this season. Delpit has two pressures, 15 tackles, nine stops, and he’s allowed eight catches on 11 targets for 22 yards, 16 yards after the catch, no touchdowns, one interception, one pass breakup, and an opponent passer rating of 37.3. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz loves to use subtle twists of the knife through a game in coverage, and Delpit has been Schwartz’s perfect foil because he plays with his hair on fire all over the field.

Whether he’s covering Tee Higgins of the Cincinnati Bengals through the deep third…

…or blitzing from the slot to upset Joe Burrow…

…Delpit can do it all from everywhere.

Schwartz talked a lot this week about the challenges presented by the Baltimore Ravens’ offense and Lamar Jackson.

“There’s still a lot of carryover from last year, particularly run game and quarterback run game, but probably a little bit more emphasis on some of the dropback game,” Schwartz said on Thursday of Baltimore’s offense under new OC Todd Monken. “His completion percentage is way up. They’re trying to get high-percentage completions, get the ball out of his hand fairly quickly, but that goes both ways. It comes out of his hand a little bit faster, but sometimes he’s really dangerous when he’s holding the ball a long time, making guys miss and making big plays down the know the field. There’s still a lot of carryover from years past. And I think with Coach [John] Harbaugh there, he’s not going to let it get too far away from his philosophy and their effort to be physical and control the game with the run game. So, there’s a lot of stuff there, and we’ll have to be ready for a lot of different personnel packages. They use different packages within personnel packages and things like that. So, we’ll match it a lot of different ways.”

It’s a tremendous matchup, and Greg Cosell and Doug Farrar get into it in this week’s “Xs and Os.”

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You can watch this week’s “Xs and Os with Greg Cosell and Doug Farrar,” featuring detailed tape and metric breakdowns of Week 4’s biggest matchups, right here:

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You can also listen and subscribe to the “Xs and Os” podcast on Spotify…

…and on Apple Podcasts.

The Xs and Os with Greg Cosell: Previewing Week 4’s biggest NFL matchups

Lions-Packers! Dolphins-Bills! Browns-Ravens! Steelers-Texans! Greg Cosell and Doug Farrar preview Week 4’s biggest NFL matchups.

With three full weeks down in the 2023 NFL calendar, it’s time to look ahead to the most compelling matchups in Week 4 of the season. As always, Greg Cosell of NFL Films and ESPN’s NFL Matchup, and Doug Farrar of USA Today’s Sports Media Group, have you covered with comprehensive tape study and advanced metrics.

This week, the guys break down these genes:

  • Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
  • Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
  • Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
  • Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans
  • Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers

You can watch this week’s “Xs and Os with Greg Cosell and Doug Farrar” right here:

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You can also listen and subscribe to the “Xs and Os” podcast on Spotify…

…and on Apple Podcasts.

4-Down Territory: Bad Bears, amazing Dolphins, weird decisions, untold stories

In this week’s “4-Down Territory,” Doug Farrar and Kyle Madson discuss the bad Bears, the historic Dolphins, and one strange decision that made sense.

With three weeks of actual football in the books for the 2023 NFL season, it’s time for Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire, and Kyle Madson of Niners Wire, to come to the table with their own unique brand of analysis in “4-Down Territory.”

This week, the guys discuss these four downs:

  1. Is it time for the Chicago Bears to move on from head coach Matt Eberflus (and to possibly make other moves)?
  2. Do the Miami Dolphins have the best offense we’ve ever seen?
  3. What was Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels thinking with that Sunday night field goal, and why did it actually make sense?
  4. What’s the biggest untold story in the NFL right now?

You can watch this week’s “4-Down Territory” right here:

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You can also listen and subscribe to the “4-Down Territory” podcast on Spotify…

…and on Apple Podcasts.

NFL Power Rankings, Week 4: Dolphins rise, Cowboys fall

The Dolphins rise after dropping 70, and the Cowboys slip after going down in the dessert. Where does your team fall in the Week 4 power rankings?

From 70 burgers being cooked well-done in the Miami heat, to fourth-quarter comebacks in the land of the cheese, Week 3 did not disappoint. Now that all games have been played, these are the NFL power rankings from 32-1 heading into Week 4.

A first look at every NFL team’s 2023 Salute to Service gear

Get your favorite NFL team’s 2023 Salute to Service gear. 100% of profits benefit the NFL’s military nonprofit partners.

The NFL is continuing to show their support for the United States military with their 2023 line of Salute to Service gear.

Every team in the league will begin wearing their annual Salute to Service hoodies, shirts, hats and more, but with a new twist.

The collection features a unique camo or military look with the custom Salute to Service emblem or U.S. flag. Salute to Service items include New Era hats, Nike t-shirts, longsleeves, hoodies, and more.

All profits go toward the NFL Foundation to benefit the league’s military nonprofit partners, such as the Wounded Warrior Project and TAPS–And they can all be found over at Fanatics.

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Check out the 2023 Salute to Service line of gear for your favorite team right here:

Twitter goes wild over Deshaun Watson’s blooper-worthy backward pass

Twitter had a lot to say about the Deshaun Watson backward pass that looked like a blooper reel come to life. Also, poor Aaron Brooks.

The German word “Schadenfreude” is defined as “Malicious joy” and “Pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.” In the case of Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, you could argue that the schadenfreude over his horrible season is well-placed.

The clown show continued on Sunday when the Browns took on the Tennessee Titans. Cleveland’s defense has been on lock as it has been all season long, but it really doesn’t matter when your quarterback is doing stuff like this.

As we would expect, social media had a lot to say about it.

Deshaun Watson with unfathomably bad play for the Browns

Deshaun Watson with a play that will wind up on blooper reels for years

The Cleveland Browns are paying $230 million for this?

Deshaun Watson with a play against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday that will not only wind up on a blooper video for 2023, but also could be an addition to the iconic “Football Follies.”

What on earth was the QB thinking throwing the ball backward that far?

Kareem Hunt pays tribute to Nick Chubb in perfect style

Whose jersey did Kareem Hunt wear to the stadium for the Browns game?

Kareem Hunt showed the ultimate respect to a missing teammate when he arrived at the stadium Sunday for the Cleveland Browns’ game with the Tennessee Titans.

Hunt, who signed with this Browns this week after Nick Chubb was injured, was wearing a No. 24 jersey that Chubb dons so well for Cleveland.

That’s a perfect touch to show appreciation for the great back who tore in his MCL against the Steelers on Monday.

Well done.