Browns taking scorching hot defense to face Indy Colts
The Cleveland Browns will bring an unbelievably hot defense to Lucas Oil Stadium to face Jonathan Taylor, Gardner Minshew and the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. How hot have they been? Well, so hot that their numbers are actually better than the numbers posted by the 1991 Philadelphia Eagles, who were judged by many experts to be the top NFL defense of the past 35 years!
Consider this: The1991 Eagles allowed 3.92 yards per play (next best: Washington at 4.54 yds/play, a difference of 0.62 yds/play). The Browns have allowed 3.82 yds/play (next best: SF at 4.50 yds/play a difference of 0.68 yds/play). The Browns are giving up fewer yards per play and have separated themselves further from the second best competitor, compared to their 1991 Eagle counterparts. That’s crazy.
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The 1991 Eagles gave up only 150.8 passing yards per game, the Browns are giving up only 121.4. Versus the run, the Eagles were extremely stingy, at 2.97 yards per carry while the Browns are at 3.47 yds/carry. So maybe the 2023 Colts have some hope to run the ball with Jonathan Taylor having ended his holdout. Taylor rushed for 1811 yards and 5.45 yds/carry in 2021; 861 yards and 4.48 yds/carry in 2022. Anybody see a pattern here? No? Well this year, in his first two games back, he has only 37 yards and 2.64 yds/carry. Hmm! Nevertheless, the Colts are expecting him to return to his 2021 form any week now, just as the Browns are expecting Deshaun Watson to play at his 2020 level any week now. It could happen, you know!
So what about Gardner Minshew, the quarterback of the Colts? He has a career 47/18 TD/INT ratio and a career passer rating of 91.5 according to Pro Football Reference, so he can play. He is not super mobile, so he will be running for his life as Zadarius Smith and Myles Garrett and the rest of the Browns Bombers chase him down. It is difficult to envision a high offensive output from the Colts, but on the other hand, the Browns may also have trouble scoring. If the Browns win this game, it will be their defense that wins it for them. If they lose to the Colts, it will probably be because the Browns offense gives the game away.
Well, we told you that this game was going to be close. We were right. Boy, were we right.