If Browns Don't Play Defense, They Won't Win

Kim LaknerCorrespondent ISeptember 11, 2009

CINCINNATI - SEPTEMBER 28:  Brandon McDonald #22 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates a defensive stop during the NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals on September 28, 2008 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The old football saying, “Defense wins championships” can be simplified even more when it comes to the 2009 Cleveland Browns—“Defense keeps you competitive.”

As I was watching the Titans-Steelers game last night, I thought to myself how awesome it would be to have a defense that stops the run and punishes the other team's offense.

Unfortunately, I don’t know how that feels and may not know for at least another year.

Then again, maybe Rob Ryan’s group will surprise me and the rest of Browns’ nation.

The Titans' defense allowed 19 yards on 13 carries to Willie Parker, while the Steelers' defense held Chris Johnson to 57 yards on 15 touches. The Steelers also blocked a field goal that ended up being the difference in the game.

That’s vintage Pittsburgh Steelers football. It’s sickening, I know. But you have to give them props.

Until the Browns show any type of resemblance of an attacking defense, instead of a three-man rush and poor tackling, they will remain at the bottom of the division.

Brady Quinn is not going to light up opposing defenses for 30 points every Sunday and Jamal Lewis is clearly not the same back that once ran for nearly three football fields against the Browns.

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Until I see a more aggressive defense that is fundamentally sound, meaning no missed tackles or encroachment penalties, there’s no reason to think it’s going to change.

I understand that a poor offense last year led to a tired defense down the stretch, but other guys not named Shaun Rogers need to step their games up to another level.

The Browns had a defense that ranked second in the league with 23 interceptions on only 17 sacks. The Baltimore Ravens’ league-leading 26 interceptions were complemented by 34 sacks.

Had the Browns gotten to the quarterback more than once a game, they easily would have led the league in picks and may have won a couple more games.

The Browns' offense is not dynamic enough to put up 27 points a game as they did in 2007, so they need to manufacture long drives to keep their defense off the field. That is one reason why I believe Quinn is starting over Anderson, because Eric Mangini knows they don’t have the offensive personnel to put up big numbers.

When I look at the Browns' defense, I see Shaun Rogers, D’Qwell Jackson, Eric Wright, and Brandon McDonald as the only playmakers. I think one of the two corners could make the Pro Bowl if the pass rush improves. The safeties are a huge concern coming into the season.

I haven’t seen David Bowens this preseason and have no reason to think he’ll make a difference. Alex Hall showed a lot of potential, and I think he needs to see a lot of playing time. Kamerion Wimbley showed some glimpses of improvement but needs to show it on a consistent basis.

Until then, all Browns fans can do is hope.


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