By Brian Costello and Joe Vardon – NFL.com StaffThe Cleveland Browns defense has been among the league’s best in 2017, but in 2017 the team did something it hasn’t done since the 2000s, and that’s give up big time.
The Browns defense allowed the second-most yards per game in the NFL last season, ranking fifth in yards allowed per play and fifth in opponent scoring.
While the Browns defense may have played better in 2017 than it did in 2016, they didn’t play at a high level, allowing the NFL’s eighth-most points per game.
The 2017 Browns defense gave up the second most rushing yards per rush, fourth most passing yards per attempt and fourth most points per drive.
A lot has been made of the 2017 Browns defensive success, and rightfully so.
The defense’s performance has been good enough to keep the Browns competitive with the best teams in the league, but that success comes with its share of negatives.
The Browns allowed the fourth-most passing yards in the AFC North in 2017.
For a team that struggled in 2017 to create pressure on quarterbacks and had no success against the run, the Browns allowed more rushing yards than the NFL had seen in 2016.
In 2017, the Cleveland Browns ranked third in total defense, fifth in pass rush defense and sixth in pass efficiency defense.
This isn’t a surprise to anyone.
The 2016 Browns defense, which was led by defensive tackle Terrance Brooks and safety Kevin Minter, was one of the best in the game.
In 2016, the defense ranked sixth in total pass rush, fifth and sixth for passing efficiency defense and third and fourth in pass defense.
In 2016, when Brooks and Minter were on the field together, the 2016 Browns had the third-best run defense in the entire NFL.
In 2017, they ranked third.
It’s not hard to see why the Browns’ defense was among the best, but there are a couple of issues that have plagued the unit for the past few years.
First, the defensive line was terrible last season.
The Cleveland Browns had a terrible run defense that allowed a league-high 19.3 points per carry.
Second, the offensive line was also terrible last year.
Offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz was suspended for a total of 10 games after being arrested for DUI and speeding in February.
Finally, the front seven of the 2016 Cleveland Browns struggled mightily.
The team ranked 22nd in pass rushers and 22nd against the pass.
The defensive line, the secondary, and the linebackers were terrible last spring, and it appears that will continue to be the case for 2017.