Despite back-to-back heartbreaking games to begin the season for the Browns, there has been one main consistent piece to the puzzle that has helped Cleveland have chances against two Super Bowl contending teams. And that’s the revitalized defense under the direction of Gregg Williams.
In Week 1 against Ben Roethlisberger, we had no clue what to expect. What we didn’t think was going to happen was the defense forcing three interceptions, two to Denzel Ward in his first regular season game and two fumbles that led to the game-tying touchdowns in the fourth quarter comeback for Cleveland. Roethlisberger has killed the Browns over the past, but did not look like himself for most of the game in that overtime season opener. The main defender who had himself a showing was Myles Garrett who’s looking to emerge as a top defensive tackle in the league. Two sacks on “Big Ben” got his season off to a fantastic start.
The next challenge that arose for the defense was in Week 2 at New Orleans. The Saints were coming off a heartbreaking Week 1 loss as well at the hands of Tampa Bay, 48-40. And with Drew Brees, who threw for 439 yards and three touchdowns, the defense was expected to have a similar game in order to avoid another disappointment. Well, they definitely rose to the occasion, holding the Saints offense to just three points in the first half and forced two fumbles on the running game of New Orleans.
Again, the secondary had a fantastic game, with Damarious Randall picking up a fumble and Denzel Ward holding his own on Michael Thomas. They held Brees this week to just 243 yards and two touchdowns on 28 for 35 passing, which is really good given his Week 1 performance. The run defense also performed up to standards, holding Alvin Kamara to just 46 yards rushing, who was a tough tackle all day. Larry Ogunjobi had a showcase for himself with two sacks and four tackles.
Through two games, if you’re looking for reasons for the Browns to be at 0-1-1, the defense is certainly not one of those reasons. They’ve risen to the occasion when it’s counted the most against two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. And for Week 3, they won’t have that much time to prepare for their Thursday Night Football matchup with rookie quarterback Sam Darnold and the New York Jets. If they perform the same way as they did in the first two weeks, we will once again have a shot of putting up a W.