Browns better beware of vaunted K.C. defense
CLEVELAND – It might be a good idea if players on the Browns offensive line take advantage of the many great steakhouses in Kansas City Saturday night.
A good protein feed might help bolster their strength for the assignment that awaits them the next day against the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium. One of many reasons why the Chiefs are the NFL’s only undefeated team (7-0) is a pass rush that has generated a league-high 35 sacks, led by linebacker Justin Houston with 10 and linebacker Tamba Hali with nine.
The Chiefs are first in the league in fewest points allowed at 11.6 per game. The pass rush plays big into a ranking of third against the pass.
“Great scheme, and what, they have five Pro Bowlers,” Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas said. “That helps too. The scheme is fantastic. Outstanding personnel. You get a little bit of a lead and they don’t let people score a lot of points because they get a lot of sacks.”
Houston usually lines up on the left side of the defense, which means he’ll often draw blocks from Schwartz. Hali is on the opposite side and will usually face Thomas.
That’s assuming the Chiefs play a vanilla 3-4 style. That’s not the case with coach Andy Reid and defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. They like to dial up a variety of exotic blitz packages.
“They had a great defense last year,” center Alex Mack said of the Browns’ 30-7 win over the Chiefs in 2012. “The big thing I remember last year was they had a negative turnover ratio. They’re doing a good job on offense and they’re creating turnovers and stopping people.”
The Chiefs lead the NFL with a plus-11 turnover ratio. They have 10 interceptions (three by safety Quintin Demps) and have recovered seven fumbles.
It’s enough to make Browns quarterback Jason Campbell probably ask himself why did coach Rob Chudzinski pick this week to name him the starter ahead of Brandon Weeden.
Campbell’s insertion into the lineup changes the offensive dynamics. Every quarterback is unique, whether it’s the quickness of his release, propensity to scramble or ability to stand in the pocket.
The linemen had to enjoy blocking for Brian Hoyer in his short time before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Hoyer’s release time was slightly less than 3 seconds. At one point, Weeden had a league-high release time of slightly more than 4 seconds, according to “Profootballfocus.com.”
The linemen don’t think there’s a big difference in what they’re asked to do when there’s a change at quarterback.
“It’s something I’m used to,” Thomas said. “It’s not like I’ve ever played with one quarterback for a whole season. Most of the guys that have been here for any length of time know it’s part of doing business. You have to be ready to have a different quarterback or running back behind you.”
Further complicating the challenge will be dealing with crowd noise at Arrowhead that’s been called the loudest in the league. There’s a college feel to it, from the tailgaters in the parking lot to the intensity of the fans.
“It’s daunting to hear the loudest in the league because all the other places we’ve played at have been pretty loud too,” Mack said. “It’s always a challenge in away games. It’s stressed during practice and we’ll do what we can.”
A quiet stadium Sunday means things are going well for the Browns.