During their three-game winning streak and the final two games before the annual bye week, pressuring opposing quarterbacks was not a problem for the Cleveland Browns, as they registered a combined 23 sacks.
However, since the bye week, the Browns have not registered a sack of either Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton or Pittsburgh Steelers signal-caller Ben Roethlisberger.
“People are getting the ball out quick and we’re not putting ourselves in positions to get there,” Browns outside linebacker
Roethlisberger had been sacked 36 times for 242 lost yards entering last Sunday’s game at FirstEnergy Stadium, but the Browns only pressured the 10-year veteran twice in their 27-11 home loss.
What Browns coach Rob Chudzinski is looking for is for every one of the defenders on the field to win their individual battles and get to the opposing passers.
“When we did have four-man pressure and when (Roethlisberger) was dropping deeper, we weren’t able to win the one-on-one matchups,” Chudzinski said. “It’s as simple as that. When we did have blitzes on, we were able to get pressure on when he was dropping deeper.
“It’s a combination of a number of things. You look at our blitz percentage, and it was right in line with the other games that we’ve played. They were just getting the ball out quick at those times or those were the times where we were able to get pressure on him.”
Chudzinski said the Browns’ coaching staff continued “stressing technique and beating a man” with the players throughout the week, and also feels the team needs to play even with or gain early leads over their opponents instead of playing from behind.
When the Browns were playing with a lead or close to an opponent, they were able to register six sacks in a 31-27 win at Minnesota on Sept. 22, and four more stops in a 37-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills in front of a national-television audience on NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football on Oct. 3.
Although they lost, 23-17, at Kansas City on Oct. 27, the Browns registered six sacks for 30 lost yards against Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, and followed it up with five more in a 24-18 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 3.
“The situation in the last two games wasn’t one where the other team had to throw the ball a lot,” Chudzinski said. “We had a lot of one-on-one opportunities, and when we get those opportunities with our four-man rush, we have to generate some pressure and beat the guys across from us.
“We’re pressuring and blitzing, and when we are, we’re getting chances. We had some chances to get Roethlisberger down and weren’t able to do that and get him on the ground. We knew that going into the game. We just have to continue to work to improve that.”