The Cleveland Browns’ 2011 1st round draft pick, DT/DE Phil Taylor, was placed on the NFL’s Injured Reserve list yesterday. He joined an alarmingly crowded waiting room alongside team mates and fellow DT/DE’s Armonty Bryant (IR’d on 10/14/14) and John Hughes (placed IR Designated for Return on 10/27/14).
At the start of the season, the Browns’ 3-4 defense had a total of seven players assigned to man the interior of the D-Line. That number has now dwindled to five and three of them are listed as Nose Tackles (Ahtyba Rubin, Ishmaa’ily Kitchen and Sione Fua). The only remaining DT/DE’s on the roster are Billy Winn and Desmond Bryant. Add in the fact that Free Agent acquisition Linebacker Karlos Dansby is also expected to be out for at least four weeks with an injury and the prospects of Cleveland’s defense holding up is starting to appear bleak.
It didn’t take the Houston Texans long to recognize this weakness last Sunday as they racked up 213 rushing yards (at a rate of almost 4 yards per carry), 211 passing yards (10.6 yards per completion) and gave up zero sacks in their convincing 23-7 victory. And they did it with a Quarterback getting his first NFL start (Ryan Mallett) and a rookie Running Back (Alfred Blue).
Add in the offensive woes since Center Alex Mack was placed on IR after week 5 and it certainly looks as if the Defensive unit will be tested in the coming weeks. To put the loss of Mack into perspective;
- In the first 5 weeks, the Browns offense rushed for an average of 146.4 yards per game (4.4 yards per carry). In the last 5 weeks, this number has dwindled to 77.2 (2.4 yards per carry).
- In the first 5 weeks, the Browns offense rushed for an average of 1.6 rushing TD’s per game. In the last 5 weeks, 0.8 rushing TD’s per game.
- In the first 5 weeks, the Browns offense gave up an average of 1.2 sacks for an average of 8 yards per game. In the last 5 weeks, these numbers have ballooned to 2.2 sacks for an average of 14.6 yards per game.
- In the first 5 weeks, the Browns offense converted 36.1% of 3rd In the last 5 weeks, they have converted only 22.7%
If “these are the times that try men’s souls”, then Head Coach Mike Pettine and Defensive Coordinator Jim O’Neil better have souls made out of Kevlar.