The Browns will host the Titans in their first non-division game of the year on Sunday, following a loss to the Steelers last week. They will also be without star RB Nick Chubb for the first game this season, after he suffered a season-ending injury during Week 2.
Here are three questions ahead of the Week 3 matchup.
Will the defense improve their sack numbers?
In the game against the Steelers, the Browns allowed 222 yards (200 net) through the air and 55 on the ground. However, they also forced two turnovers, one interception and one fumble recovery. The defense played exceptionally well, showing that they are a top-tier unit. The Browns defense leads the league in pass completion percentage, allowing only 46.8 percent. They have allowed only 130 yards rushing, the third lowest in the league.
Despite the Browns defense being at the top of most defensive categories, they are in the bottom half of the league in sacks. They have four sacks through two games this season.
When the Browns signed new acquisitions DE Za’Darius Smith and DT Dalvin Tomlinson, they hoped to boost DE Myles Garrett’s pass-rushing ability. Although the duo combined for six quarterback hurries in two games, they failed to record a sack.
Garrett, who recorded 16 sacks last season, acknowledges the value of his play for the defense. In Week 1, when Garrett sacked the Bengals QB Joe Burrow, it secured a win for the Browns. Against the Steelers, he didn’t record a sack, and the team lost.
“I have to be as disruptive as possible, and I know sometimes they might have a little target on me, but that’s just an opportunity,” Garrett said. “I may give one tackle or two tackles. Make it one PBU but make it as valuable as possible. Make it as timely as possible, and it shows my team’s needs.”
Will WR Elijah Moore be more involved in the offense?
All offseason, there was talk about incorporating Elijah Moore into every aspect of the offense, but we have yet to see it happen consistently.
Through the first two games, Moore has caught six passes for 79 yards and rushed 24 yards on three attempts. Despite a tremendous 18-yard run against the Bengals during the season opener, Moore has been quiet for the Browns this season.
“Elijah is one of those shoes, one of those feet that fills the shoes for Nick,” OC Alex Van Pelt said. “So, we’ll find more ways to get everybody involved.”
Everyone on the Browns offense will be expected to step up now that Chubb is out. The Browns are facing a Titans defense who allow the third-worst yards per attempt. This could be an excellent opportunity for Moore to have a successful game.
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How will the offensive line hold up?
QB Deshaun Watson was sacked six times in the Browns Week 2 loss to the Steelers.
According to Pro Football Focus, only two players, G Wyatt Teller (78.2) and C Ethan Pocic (76.7), scored above 70.0 in their overall grade for run blocking. Similarly, G Michael Dunn was the only lineman who scored above 70.0 (72.7) in pass blocking, albeit he only participated in nine snaps.
Browns allowed 17 QB pressures on Monday. RT Dawand Jones and T Jed Wills Jr. each gave up five pressures, battling LB T.J. Watt and OLB Alex Highsmith all game.
“We knew that was a tough matchup, regardless,” Van Pelt said. “We talked about the edges being important that week. I thought he (Jones) played well for the most part. He got stuck on that last one, the sack fumble. Just the cadence and the atmosphere got him. He didn’t get off on time on the snap, but it was a big challenge for Jed. I thought he played again, admirably, for the most part, just had the one glaring one at the end. But Jed’s always shown up for us. He’s played left tackle for us every time he’s healthy for the last four years, so he’ll continue to get better.”
The Browns offensive line will face a Titans defense that boasts a fierce defensive line anchored by second-team All-Pro DT Jeffery Simmons, alongside DL Denico Autry and DT Teair Tart. The Titans defense is top 10 in the league in sacks with seven.
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