CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns have struggled with inconsistencies in several areas through the first half of the 2019 regular season, and defensively, it starts with an inability to consistently wrap up and bring down ball carriers.
Although the problem has plagued the Browns throughout the first eight games, correcting it has been a challenge.
“I really can’t tell you and pinpoint the reason why,” Browns defensive coordinator Steve Wilks said Thursday. “We are at the point of attack, and we have to learn how to finish. It is a point of emphasis each and every week.
“That is how we start our practice each Wednesday with our padded practice. Understanding the situation, we missed it out of the post. Greedy was right there to make the tackle. He was trying to go for the strip first and we can’t do that in that situation. We have to get the guy down on the ground.”
It did not take long for the Denver Broncos to respond to a successful field goal attempt for the Browns early in the second quarter. As a matter of fact, it took all of one play for the Broncos to hit paydirt in front of the home fans and roll that momentum into a 24-19 win over the Browns.
On first-and-10 from the Denver 25-yard line, Broncos quarterback Brandon Allen, who was making his first-ever start in the National Football League, threw a short pass to tight end Noah Fant on a crossing route toward the left sideline.
After securing the catch, Fant ran through tackle attempts from cornerback Greedy Williams, safety Jermaine Whitehead and linebacker Adarius Taylor before getting into open space and hustling his way into the end zone.
“To make it quite clear, we work on tackling each and every day, even when you do not have the pads on,” Wilks said. “It is all about the leverage position, understanding where your hips are coming from, being in position to finish. It is not always about the physical part of it, as well. It is the minute things, the details that we have to make sure we clean up and execute.
“These guys at this level understand the physicality of the game, so I do not really think it is that. I think it is more about leverage, angles and positioning yourself to finish, and that has been our point of emphasis and that is what we really need to get back to is the base fundamentals.”
Regardless of the limited number of padded practices during the regular season, the Browns are going to need sound tackling if they hope to get back into the win column against the 6-2 Buffalo Bills at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland Sunday.
Combined between running backs Frank Gore and Devin Singletary and quarterback Josh Allen, the Bills have generated 951 yards and eight touchdowns on 207 carries, an average of 4.59 yards-per-rushing attempt.
“All of those guys do a tremendous job of running the football,” Wilks said. “I think they are going to try to establish the run game. We have to do a great job of staying in our gaps and getting off blocks. When you look at their offensive line, to me, that is their strength in the run game.
“They do a tremendous job coming off the ball, getting to the second level, cutting guys and getting on the perimeter. The challenge is going to be trying to stop the run game and really try to get Josh Allen in a situation where he has to drop back and pass the football.”