I never relax when watching the Browns, no matter if they win or lose. It's just not in my DNA. And this team has probably taken at least 15-20 years off my life from all the ulcer-causing games I've seen. My mind is shattered to the point where I probably need therapy. My body is probably already shot at just 32 years old. But a rare thing happened today: I had fun watching the Browns play. I enjoyed myself. I had a Texas-sized grin on my face. After an absolutely disastrous Monday Night game in Pittsburgh, the Browns had probably the best bounce back victory I think I've ever seen!
Aside from a few early penalties, the execution on this one was absolutely fantastic. Cleveland took Tennessee back out behind the woodshed, grabbed a two by four, and laid the smackdown on the Titans. My goodness! But how did the Browns look so great this afternoon? Let's take a look at the Keys to Victory!
DEFENSE, DEFENSE DEFENSE!
There's no way around it. this has to be one of the best defensive performances from the Browns since their return to the league in 1999. If not THE best. They held Tennessee to just 94 total yards, sacked Ryan Tannehill five times, and gave the Titans their worst offensive day since they relocated from Houston to Tennessee in 1997. That shatters the old record low from when the Jaguars held the Titans to 98 yards in 2006.
Myles Garrett was an absolute nightmare for Tennessee all game, as he racked up 3 1/2 of Cleveland's five sacks. They've finally turned him and the rest of the defensive line loose, and let them have fun. I love wins however we get them. But few things make me smile bigger than a win led by an absolutely dominant defensive effort like that.
For as much as NFL has evolved to be an offensive game over the years, the old saying will forever ring true: Offense wins games. Defense wins Championships. A team has to play defense like the Browns did today if they want to win anything, whether it's a spot in the Playoffs, an AFC North title or a Super Bowl Championship.
I know it's only been three games. But Jim Schwartz and this Browns defense has started off the season in extremely impressive fashion. Through three weeks, the defense has given up a combined total of 18 points. This wasn't a game where a Joe Woods-led "defense" gave up 18 points in a half. The Browns have given up only 18 points on defense so far this season. Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor. If this team goes anywhere big or makes any noise, it'll be because of the masterful work Jim Schwartz and this defense does week in and week out. I am absolutely beside myself and smiling from ear to ear. I love stout defense! Especially from the Browns!
Will the real Deshaun Watson please stand up?
Many Browns fans including myself, have been waiting for #4 to have a breakout game like this. This is what the Browns paid him $230 Million for. Games like this. Watson looked like he was finally in command of the offense, and absolutely let it rip, going 27-33 for 289 yards and two touchdowns, good for a quarterback rating of 123.4 in what was clearly his best game as a Cleveland Brown.
Minus the one confusing play where he tossed the ball backward in order to avoid a sack, Watson looked extremely efficient, poised, and in control. The offensive line did give up three sacks, which is definitely something to clean up. But for when he was upright and able to make plays, he torched a Titans team that has had major issues with their secondary over the last couple seasons. Not unlike how the Browns looked under Joe Woods from 2020-2022.
Watson simply took what the defense gave him, and made several crisp throws while also limiting mistakes and taking care of the football. That's what a franchise quarterback is supposed to do. Now we need more performances just like that one! Starting with hopefully another vintage performance in an absolutely massive game next week against the Baltimore Ravens at home, with an early lead in the AFC North squarely on the line!
Running by committee
Nick Chubb is irreplaceable. Everyone knows that. He's the best running back in the NFL. Period. I'd pick him over anyone else when he's fully healthy. But after his catastrophic injury in Pittsburgh last week, Kevin Stefanski had to figure out how to cobble together a decent running game that can get us through the rest of the season without #24.
For the most part, the Browns were decent on the ground, rushing for 78 yards as a team, even though they can always be better. And even though he won't count as a rusher on the stat sheet, Browns wideout Elijah Moore picked up 49 yards receiving on nine catches to help supplement a makeshift running game. I liked the way the Browns got him involved. When they executed things well, the screen passes and end around plays by Moore helped move the chains in a similar way to the running game.
And Jerome Ford scored his first career rushing touchdown as a Brown, while also showing he can be a decent pass catcher out of the backfield. I think the Browns drafted a good one when they took Ford. But we'll have to wait and see how he does going forward. He's only 24 years old and still learning a ton. So far, I'm happy with him!
And I'm absolutely ecstatic with this Browns victory! Next up? An absolutely MASSIVE home game against the Baltimore Ravens on October 1st. Whoever wins that one may take over first place in the AFC North here early in the season.
The Browns have yet to truly shut Lamar Jackson down ever since he came into the league in 2018. He's been a thorn in their side the last five seasons. If my memory is correct, they've only beaten him once. He's been a thorn in their side for years. If this defense stops him dead in his tracks? I'll start getting truly excited.
It's been about 35 years since Cleveland has had a truly nasty, unforgiving defense with a killer instinct. I truly hope the Dawg Defense has finally made a triumphant return to the shores of Lake Erie. I've waited my whole life to see the Browns finally have a Championship-level defense. One that shows absolutely no mercy, and slams the door shut in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.
Until next week, enjoy this one, Dawg Pound! The Cleveland Browns dominate the Tennessee Titans from start to finish as they climb to 2-1 on the season! GO BROWNS!
Deshaun Watson: 27-33, 289 yards, 2 TDs.
Pierre Strong Jr., 6 carries, 27 yards
Amari Cooper: 7 receptions, 116 yards, TD
Picture Credit: lineups.com