For years, actually since their return to the NFL, the Cleveland Browns have been unable to stop the run. They haven't always been great against the pass but that hasn't matter much because of how bad their run defense has been.
During Training Camp and Preseason games, the Browns defense has looked the worst it has been since their return. While the offense might be able to carry the team, the defensive issues help perfect the Baylor Bears comparison.
All Offense, No Defense has been the Big 12's way.
The other tell tale sign of Baylor has been the speed on offense. The Browns have looked to match that with former Bears in Robert Griffin III, Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon, as well as Terrelle Pryor and Duke Johnson on the offensive side of the ball.
The Browns have taken it a step further and have brought speed to the defensive side of the ball like never before. Carl Nassib, Emmanuel Ogbah, Joe Schobert, Christian Kirksey, Corey Lemonier and Tyrone Holmes bring a ton of speed all over defense.
What the Browns lack in experience, talent and production, they are looking to make up for it with their overall speed.
Will it work? Can they overcome the limitations of their defense with pure, unadulterated speed?
In the run game, speed can cut off angles, pursue from behind and cause disruption in the backfield. If the Browns, especially their Front 7, can disrupt the angles their opponents are attempting to create, their speed can make the tackle before the play can get going. Even if the Browns find themselves out of position, their speed can quickly get to the ball carrier.
The two issues in run defense for a speed heavy team are clear: Getting pushed around and counter issues. The smaller, fast guys are great until the bigger offensive linemen get their hands on them and shove them all over the field. The second issue is when the offense uses the defense's speed to their advantage with counters, throwbacks and other misdirections after the defense gets moving in the other direction.
In the passing game, speed can be a killer for the defense. Getting a pass rush depends on the combination of speed and moves, with the former sometimes being enough on it's own. We have seen what Nassib and Ogbah have done in the Preseason with their speed and are hoping they will continue as the real games start. Pressure on a QB changes the game dramatically, just ask Cam Newton after last year's Super Bowl.
Speed can also help when a pass has been thrown. The speed makes passing windows that much smaller, can create chaos with tipped balls and interceptions. Expect DC Ray Horton to use exotic packages to drop both linemen and linebackers into coverage and make things difficult on rookie Carson Wentz.
With a secondary that looks like it will struggle most of the season, a speedy pass rush and small passing windows from the Front 7 can keep them from giving up record setting, Baylor like yards in the pass game.
As written about in the past, the Browns can have a Peyton Manning Indianapolis Colts like setup. An offense that scores a ton which allows the defense to pin their ears back and get after the QB. The speed that the team has added to their defense fits that profile.
While the Browns are likely to struggle on defense, the speed that they have added could be the difference between historically bad and just subpar. That could be the difference between a win or two and a more respectable 5 or 6 win season. Those 4 or 5 extra wins not only would create hope for fans but could also be huge in recruiting free agents in the offseason.
They say speed kills. For the Browns defense, speed might be the only thing they can hang their hat on.
Do you think the Browns team speed on defense will make a difference this season?