Kevin Stefanski will have to get the most out of a rookie and a career backup quarterback for a while.
Deshaun Watson’s season-ending injury blew a gaping hole in the Cleveland Browns playoff hopes.
But the team is still 6-3 and if they can get by the Pittsburgh Steelers at home, they are in the driver’s seat.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson will rely on his running game in a more controlled passing attack.
But as Adam Schefter noted today, Cleveland is counting on another unit to clear a path to the playoffs.
With Deshaun Watson out for the season, the Browns now will have to rely even more on their dominant defense, which ranks:
🏈First in yards allowed (242.7)
🏈First in passing yards allowed (151.1)
🏈Fourth in points allowed (16.9)
🏈Tied for fourth in sacks (30) and tied for…
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 15, 2023
Jim Schwartz’s defense has the ability to set the tone of a football game.
And if the Browns offense can put together just a couple of scoring drives, that could be enough most weeks.
Schefter cites Cleveland’s statistical dominance, including the fewest yards allowed per game.
In their first matchup against the Steelers, the defense let their guard down for just one play.
They paid homage to former coordinator Joe Woods in playing a loose zone toward the end of the half.
George Pickens found a spot to catch a short pass and promptly turned it into a 71-yard touchdown.
Outside of that one glitch, Cleveland held Pittsburgh to a pair of field goals on 181 yards.
Thompson-Robinson threw 3 interceptions in his NFL debut against the Baltimore defense.
But Cleveland fans have faith he won’t suffer a pick-six and a sack/fumble/touchdown in the same game.
It’s a low bar, but it would have been enough to win the first matchup with the Steelers.
And then we’ll see how dominant the Browns’ defense has to be for the rest of the season.