Mid-season defensive grades from ProFootballFocus

Mid-season defensive grades from ProFootballFocus

  • So much for this defense being "special". PFF ranks the Browns' defense 28th out of 32 after eight games. They're the weakest unit on the team behind the offense (22nd) and special teams (10th).

    The Browns rank 30th in run defense. The Broncos, who we just played, rank 1st. In terms of tackling the Browns rank 23rd - not as low as last year and better than I expected. The strong point is pass rushing where they rank 7th, thanks mainly to Myles Garrett whose 91.3 pass rushing grade is tops in the NFL. Unfortunately, they only rank 25th in pass coverage. With better coverage there would be even more sacks.

    The Steelers rank #1 in pass rushing and we still have to play them twice. Since we rank 20th in pass blocking it looks like Baker is going to get killed.

    But back to the grades. At tackle Richardson is decent, ranking 43rd, but people should stop referring to him as a Pro Bowler just because he made it once. Larry Ogunjobi ranks 103 and Lawrence 117. Since there are fewer than 64 starting tackles (some teams play a 3-4) the fact that Ogunjobi is 103rd is shocking. I have to believe he wouldn't be close to starting for any other team. He is the lowest ranked starter by far and a big reason why the Browns are 30th in run defense. Dorsey needs to find a better option for next year and it doesn't look like Lawrence is it.

    As for edge defenders as PFF calls them, Garrett is 13th and Vernon 17th. If Garrett weren't just an average run defender (91.3 rush, 61.2 run) he would be an elite player rather than just a top-15 defensive end. After Garrett and Vernon the Browns have nothing. Thomas and Smith would both be ranked lower than the lowest ranked player at #112 if they had enough snaps to qualify. I can't see how either of them are back.

    At linebacker Schobert is 35th and Mack Wilson 76th, which I guess is OK for a rookie 5th round pick starting due to injury. Wilson is very good at rushing the passer (78.3) but his run and coverage grades are bad. Those interceptions in training camp were just a mirage. If nothing else he may have a future as a situational pass rusher, but that's what we were saying about Genard Avery.

    At corner Greedy ranks 41st, Mitchell 52nd, Murray 59th, Ward 68th, and Carrie 84th. Wow. Greedy's ranking is pretty good for a rookie. Mitchel and Murrey at starting caliber corners based on being in the top 62. Denzel Ward has been a massive disappointment after being the #4 pick and ranking in the top 10 last year. His game has gone down the toilet. I wonder if those two concussions took away his desire to compete and be physical.

    Carrie has a good run defense grade (79.3) but is awful in coverage (49.1). I think his legs may be gone. Part of it may be that he's a slot corner who's had to play wide due to injuries. Let's see how he does the rest of the year now that Ward and Greedy are back.

    Not having a single corner ranked in the top 40 really hurt the defense, IMO.

    At safety Burnett is ranked 31st, which makes him an average starter, but his run defense is 20 points higher than his coverage grade. Randall, who is supposed to be the best safety, ranks 55th when he played, making him a marginal starter. Burris' grade is similar to Burnett's in limited action. He's earned more snaps.

    At punter Jamie Gillan ranks 9th.

    So those are the numbers. The worst is obviously the 30 ranking in run defense, especially since they are in the same division as the Ravens, who rank 5th in rushing. The run defense has to be addressed, especially at Ogunjobi's tackle position and Wilson's linebacker position. Nobody on the defense has an above average grade in run defense except Sheldon Richardson.

    The coverage also sucks, ranking 25th. The safeties and Currie are better at tackling than in coverage. Greedy looks promising and Ward was among the best in the league as a rookie. All the safeties are in the 59-65 range in coverage, which is low average. I don't know how Whitehead graded since they removed his grades, but I suspect it was pretty bad.

    Other than Garrett's pass rushing there are no impact players on defense. Vernon has above average grades across the board but nothing that jumps out. Nobody else gets a high grade in anything, really, other than Carrie's run defense, but his coverage grade is so bad he still ranks 84th. The Browns have a couple of black holes and everybody else is average or below. I don't see much hope in the near future for this defense. They really need an Eric Turner at safety and a Von Miller or Khalil Mack (who we should have drafted) at linebacker.

    Garrett and Vernon are top-20 defensive ends. Greedy is already a league average starting corner and his tackling grade is fine. Ward has the ability to mirror receivers when he's on top of his game, which he hasn't been so far this year. Courtland Sutton kicked his butt, but to be fair. PFF has Sutton ranked 10th among all receivers.

    This defense looks like it's a long way from being playoff caliber and with so much help needed on the offensive line to protect the Mayfield investment and to utilize the weapon that is Nick Chubb, I wonder how much Dorsey will be able to do to help his unit in the off-season.

  • Discussion
  • I think that Ward has played better since coming off the hamstring. But that's with just a general, cursory impression from watching the games in a bar without sound and speed drinking to buffer my overall frustration.

  • Gameface64 said... (original post) I think that Ward has played better since coming off the hamstring. But that's with just a general, cursory impression from watching the ga...

    Ward was abused last week by Cortland Sutton, who is ranked 10th among WR's by PFF. He's having a great season and has a huge size advantage over Ward, which he used to snatch that TD pass despite Ward having perfect coverage.

    I'm hoping to see Ward get back to the level he was playing at last year in the second half.

  • Abused is too strong a word. Sutton made a hell of a play on the TD. The other guys are professionals too. And Ward had great position as you stated, which wasn't always the case earlier in the year.

    This post was edited by Gameface64 2 months ago

  • PROS, I'd be curious to see what Whitehead's grade was, seeing that he played so many snaps. His in-game performance against the Broncos was terrible, similar to just about every other game (except against the Ravens) this year. Heck, I might have cut him even without the post-game meltdown/threats. Can you list his grade, please?

  • Utopia said... (original post) PROS, I'd be curious to see what Whitehead's grade was, seeing that he played so many snaps. His in-game performance against the Broncos w...

    They didn't list his season grade since he's no longer on the Browns.

    For the Broncos game his overall grade was 42.1. Only Adarius Taylor and Chad Thomas were worse. Whitehead's tackling grade of 21.8 is unbelievably bad and his run defense grade of 30.2 wasn't much better. His coverage grade of 56.7 was just below average. He said he was playing with the broken hand. Maybe that explains why he tried to tackle Fant by throwing his shoulder into him and not using his arms at all.

    His inability to stay off social media after the game probably cost him his job and the $170,000 he would have earned over the last eight games of the season. Hope it was worth it.