Pretty nice week in BrownsTown, eh?
A last-minute win to go to 2-1, D'Qwell Jackson is named AFC Defensive Player of the Month, linebacker Chris Gocong signs an extension and Peyton Hillis is back practicing after a bout of strep throat.
Soak it in, Browns fans. You deserve it.
The 17-16 win last Sunday showed that even when the Browns offense is sputtering, it can still find a way to win games. We also learned that, at least for the forseeable future, the Browns offense will be sputtering quite often.
But boy, how 'bout that "D" so far?
They're ranked in the Top 10 in Team Defense, including a number three ranking against the pass and they lead the AFC in sacks. True, against the run they've been less than stellar but give Dick Jauron and the defensive staff props for getting results so quickly.
Also give Tom Heckert some credit for some pretty good personnel decisions. The drafting of Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard, along with last year's draft coup of Joe Haden and T.J. Ward have bolstered the front and back of the Browns defense. A concern going in to the season, the defensive line, with Taylor, Sheard, Ahtyba Rubin and Jayme Mitchell has been a team strength. As evidence by his defensive award, Jackson is the leader of a solid linebacking core who have been instrumental in making crucial stops to keep the Browns in games.
And that has been the pattern during the first three games: While Colt McCoy and the offense work to figure things out, the defense keeps the game close.
It's be a pattern you'll see often this year. Is it boring football? Maybe, but if it means wins I think Browns fans will take it.
Everyone focuses on the offense, but let's face it: Until a number one receiver emerges, the passing game will continue to be a work in progress. A 1-2 running back combo of Hillis and Monterio Hardesty is nice--but it can truly flourish only with a consistent, competant passing game. And right now, quarterback and receiver play are too hit-and-miss.
Meanwhile on the other side of the ball, the playmakers are, well, making plays...and building confidence every week. Another solid performance against the Titans this Sunday will only bolster that feel-good vibe.
It's been a while since the Browns have ranked in the top ten in any defensive statistical categories--especially since their re-birth. And it's still to early to say that this is a great defense. But the fact of the matter is, right now, the most talented Browns players are on defense. And without them, this team would probably still be winless.
Soak that in, Browns fans. And give a hand to the "D".