Hue Jackson defends the Browns’ “No. 5 defense in all of football”

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Browns coach Hue Jackson defended his defense today, saying it’s fifth in the NFL. He was right in one narrow sense, but wrong in the assessment that really matters.

“If I’m not mistaken, this is the No. 5 defense in all of football,” Jackson said.

Technically, Jackson is correct that the Browns rank No. 5 in the league in yards per game, which is the statistic that the NFL uses to rank defenses.

But here’s the problem: Yards per game is a terrible statistic to rank defenses.

The 0-5 Browns are Top 5 in yards per game not because their defense is playing well — it isn’t — but because their defense finds itself trailing late in games, when opposing teams are more interested in running out the clock than gaining yards.

Take Sunday’s loss to the Jets. The Browns’ defense allowed just 212 yards in that game, which looks good. Until you remember the way the Jets ran out the clock at the end of the fourth quarter. On the Jets’ final two drives, they gained a grand total of 12 yards. But the first of those drives took 3:52 off the clock while the Jets had a two-possession lead late in the fourth quarter, and the second drive took the final 1:49 off the clock. It’s great to only allow 12 yards in two drives, unless those two drives are the drives that take all the remaining time off the clock. When you’re trailing late in the fourth quarter what you need from your defense is to force turnovers, and the Browns’ defense has just six takeaways through five games.

A better statistic to assess the quality of a defense is passer rating allowed, which is a simple yardstick for how good a job the defense has done of stopping opposing quarterbacks. And in that statistic, the Browns rank dead last with a 112.4 passer rating allowed.

And as bad as that sounds, it’s actually worse, because the Browns have played a bad collection of quarterbacks. Take a look at just how much better the five quarterbacks the Browns have faced this year were when playing against the Browns than they were when playing against other defenses:

Ben Roethlisberger had a 95.0 passer rating against the Browns in Week One. He has a 71.4 passer rating against teams other than the Browns.

Joe Flacco had a 97.3 passer rating against the Browns in Week Two. He has a 62.9 passer rating against teams other than the Browns.

Jacoby Brissett had a 120.0 passer rating against the Browns in Week Three. He has a 73.2 passer rating against teams other than the Browns.

Andy Dalton had a 146.0 passer rating against the Browns in Week Four. He has a 71.7 passer rating against teams other than the Browns.

Josh McCown had a 101.2 passer rating against the Browns in Week Five. He has an 87.8 passer rating against teams other than the Browns.

Jackson is not mistaken that the Browns’ defense ranks fifth in the NFL in yards allowed per game. If he thinks that means his defense is playing well, he’s very mistaken.

38 responses to “Hue Jackson defends the Browns’ “No. 5 defense in all of football”

  1. Agree that yards allowed is poor indicator, by itself. Some teams like the Seahawks, allow yardage but try and do a much better job in keeping teams from scoring. A combination, weighted scoring system like the QBR would be great.

  2. Build the trenches Cleveland. Get the big guys first.

    Road grading offensive line, and immovable DTs.

    The wins will come.

  3. The run defense is actually really good. The problem is the pass defense is suspect. They cant cover TE’s and 2 elite receivers had a field day against them. That said,…defense is absolutely not the reason they are 0-5. Playcalling, game management and a very pedestrian offense is the reason. Kizer is not ready for the NFL and Hues playcalling really leaves a lot to be desired. Add in his clock management, he needs to improve dramatically. Defense is not the reason the team is losing games. They have a very good run defense and a pass defense that seems to improve week over week. Blame goes solely on offense IMO.

  4. Honestly fantasy ranking for defenses is probably the best ranking of all. Points allowed, sacks, turnovers, and yards aren’t even considered. Just take out the special teams part of it and you have a great ranking of defenses.

  5. The Jets has 39 yards of offense in the first half. Were they trying to run out the clock the entire game? The Browns lost because they got to the 3 yard line three times and came away with zero points combined with two missed field goals. Watch the games. This is a very good defense and it’s young so it will only get better.

  6. I don’t understand how its possible for them to be this bad, year after year after year. Crazy

  7. Hue Jackson, is like a lot of HC that shouldn’t be one. like Kyle Shanahan, Ben McAdoo, Joe Philbin, Gus Bradley etc etc, all these guys are great at being an OC, but when they move to HC its a disaster. all these guys just need to know how to stay in their lane.

  8. Man… I actually used to like Hue but the more I hear him talk, the more I think he has quite a few screws loose.

    Let’s not forget this is the same man who called the 2011 Carson Palmer trade to Oakland “the greatest trade in football”

  9. I’m convinced it will take someone like Tom Coughlin to turn things around for the Browns. They need a football person in charge of football operations. Why can’t Haslam understand that? The first thing Coughlin did this year with the Jags was to get rid of all the ping pong and billiard tables. Contrast that to Browns HQ. From pictures I’veseen the place looks like a freakin’ Dave & Busters.

    Congrats to Jag fans for your team going back to their roots and building a winner. For the Browns,I’m afraid it’s too late to get Paul Brown.

  10. Defense can only last so long. When Hue GAVE the starting QB job to Kizer it killed all the good things the defense does. The Jets game for example, the Jets had just about as many penalty yards as they had total yards for the first half of the game. But the Browns problem comes from Kizer’s shortcomings. No way in today’s NFL can a team win with a 50% pass completion percentage. Add in multiple turnovers, and it’s pretty much game over. Hue brought on this record of 0-5 by thinking,Just because Kizer can throw the ball a country mile, he could fix all of his shortcomings. Not happening!! The Browns 0-5 record is what it is, but to blame the defense is just plain wrong.

  11. mazenblue says:
    October 11, 2017 at 4:30 pm
    If I’m not mistaken the Browns are 0-5

    True indeed. If I’m not mistaken Sparty totally owns the wolverines and is 8-2 against them in the last decade also

  12. Don’t blame Hue. He might just be practicing running for president. You’ll never know if someone is willing to buy a bridge if you don’t try selling it.

  13. Except the Jets had 70 yards in the first half when they were losing. Their D is fine save for the Colts game. Their offense is atrocious. 5 Red zone turnovers. The rest of the league has 8 combined.

  14. There are several reasons why the Browns are 0-5. Aside from being the youngest team in the league, through the first three games the Browns were the most penalized team in the league and were tied for the worst turnover ratio. Add that they were starting a rookie QB, suffered significant injuries, and they’re likely leading the league in drops. Put all that together and tell me they should be any better.

  15. “A better statistic to assess the quality of a defense is passer rating allowed”

    An even better statistic to assess the quality of a defense is points allowed since at the end of the game it’s the only number that matters.

  16. The Brown’s repeated poor seasons coupled with the anthem nonsense has made me completely apathetic toward the entire league. Period. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

  17. Their greatly improved defensively and that is all that matters for them at this point and lets see what kind of impact Garret makes. If he becomes a all pro type player, this team could be on the ups a few years from now.

  18. It’s hard to rank defenses, because team’s with bad offenses that never pull away and therefore never go into prevent mode are going to look better, by any statistical measure, than a defense that is giving up 5 yards per play for a whole half to keep the clock running because they’re already up by 4 scores.

    The past few years, teams like the Seahawks, Giants, and the Broncos almost never played prevent and that shows up in the rankings compared to teams like the Patriots, Chiefs, and Falcons who’s defenses were tasked with nursing big leads in a lot of games.

  19. I believe you should give a coach some time to develop the team. I agree you need the right coordinators but you don’t know what’s going to happen over time with consistent leadership. Too many people want instant results from a group of guys who barely know each other.

  20. Hue is a fraud. He’s always been a fraud.
    He talks big stuff but it never happens. Usually the opposite happens.
    Saw it here in Oakland. He’s a snake oil salesman. With no head coaching chops.

  21. @yankees2009
    Carson Palmer per 16 game avg 61.2% 4516 yd 26.7 TD 16.5 int 7.6 ypa
    Broncos two 1st rounders a 3rd and a starting QB for Cutler
    The Eagles got a 1st Rounder and 4th for Sam freakin Bradford
    Two 1st rounders isn’t bad for a 4000 yd 26 td QB

  22. Make no mistake the Browns are 0-5 because Kizer but who called him the starter, Hue Jackson is the one to blame not the defense.

  23. Being a Bills fan I somehow see myself rooting for the browns more often than not. I like Hue as an offensive coordinator. But he’s not the main problem, nor is Kizer. It starts from the top, and ownership has clearly shown over the years that they can’t make good football decisions. They lack stability and that’s been their main problem for years.

  24. Passer rating allowed isn’t a very solid indicator for defensive strength as it totally negates the run defense. Not one stat is perfect but having a 5th rated defense in 5 weeks means the defense is pretty good. Period.

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