Even under Joe Woods, the Cleveland Browns’ defense usually ranked among the top 10 NFL defenses by yardage.
Heading into Week 16, Jim Schwartz’s unit is tops in the league in total yards allowed and second in yards-per-play.
Ranking a defense by yards dismisses any opponent’s points more fairly charged to the offense or special teams, but Cleveland’s defense knows that points allowed are kind of important, too.
And PFF CLE Browns recently noted on Twitter how effective the Browns’ defense is in stopping opponents from scoring.
The Cleveland Browns defense has allowed points on just 45/186 drives this season (24.2%)
It ranks 1st in the NFL, with the league average being 35% 🤯 pic.twitter.com/B8jT2AeBqB
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) December 22, 2023
Cleveland’s defense is by far the best at forcing offenses to punt rather than put points on the board.
PFF reports the team allows points on only 24.2 percent of possessions (45/186), roughly 1 in 4 tries.
Offenses score at a rate of 35%, or roughly 1 of every 3 possessions, on average across the league.
Schwartz’s defense doesn’t believe in the “bend-but-don’t-break” model that satisfies some coordinators.
Cleveland not only turns offenses away more often, but they do it quicker than anybody else.
To that end, the Browns own an incredible 35.5 percent 3-and-out rate.
The second-best defense limits offenses to 3 plays 27 percent of the time.
Their impressive stats are not the result of any extended streak of dominance.
Cleveland displays an ability to shrug off bad stretches and flex its muscles on demand.
Some of their most impressive stops happened late in higher-scoring games.
Opponents know that scoring early is no guarantee points will ever come easy against the Browns.