The Cleveland Browns limited the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders to a combined total of 203 yards over their previous three games, two of which resulted in one-score victories. Despite their success of late, the Browns will get another test this week in the form of Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles.
Charles has rushed for 1,055 yards and three touchdowns on 222 carries this season, including a 233-yard, one-touchdown performance in an overtime victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 23. The 233 yards were the second-most ever in a single game by a Chiefs player and his 91-yard touchdown run was the longest rushing play in Kansas City history.
“He’s got great speed down the field and he is a very good zone runner,” Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said of Charles. “That doesn’t mean he doesn’t run the scheme plays well also, like the counters and the toss-cracks. He does those very well, too. He’s different and somewhat similar to Ray Rice, both of them very good, both of them very good readers of the defensive scheme and where the holes are. They get there quickly, down the field, really attack a defense and make things happen.”
Charles has rushed for 1,000 yards for the third consecutive season and ranks fifth on the Chiefs’ all-time rushing list. He is 370 yards from passing Ed Podolak (1969-77) for fourth all-time and is less than 2,000 yards away from Priest Holmes’ mark of 6,070 yards.
Charles also has the third and fifth-most scrimmage yards in a single game in Chiefs history. His 288 yards against the Saints earlier this year rank third, as do his 15 career 100-yard rushing games.
“He’s a one-cut guy and then, he has the speed to go the distance,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said of Charles. “He does an outstanding job of cutting the ball back if you overplay it. The off-tackle run game is probably typical of most NFL teams and they do it extremely well.”
Jauron added, “Charles is just a great zone runner. They do a very nice job in their zone scheme. He’s a very good runner in everything, but in the zone scheme, he’s got the ability to stretch the defense and put that one foot in the ground and make that cut. Then, he’s got the speed to go the distance. He’s a big threat at any time in the course of the football game. It gives them a really good one-two punch.”
According to Shurmur, stopping the Chiefs’ running game will start up front with the defensive line, a unit that has gotten healthier with the return of tackles
“Playing the run is like getting sacks, it’s a team thing,” Shurmur said. “You cannot be effective playing the run, unless everybody up front does their job. I think we’re just playing better against the run and it starts up front. The second-level guys have got to fit the right gaps and then, of course, when you have a scheme or a coverage where the safeties and corners have to get involved, then, they have to come up and tackle as well.
“There are gaps and we’ve got to have a guy in every one of them. Sometimes, the scheme dictates; sometimes, how they line up dictates it. That’s where guys getting used to playing together have a better feel for that. I think that’s why we may be having better results.”
When the Browns released their first injury report in advance of Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, only seven players were listed and four were still full participants in practice.
It was the lowest amount of players the Browns have had on any injury report throughout the season.
“We had a lot more guys out there starting our preparation for the Chiefs than we did getting ready for Oakland,” Shurmur said. “That’s good, so we’ll just see how we put the final roster, the game day roster together as Sunday rolls around.
“We’re healthier than we’ve been in the last couple weeks, which is good. As always, the preparation has been good. We had a good start yesterday.”
CONTAINING THE PASS RUSH
Outside linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali have combined for 16 of Kansas City’s 21 sacks through the first 12 games of the season.
Houston’s 10 sacks tie him for fifth in the NFL with Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware and Atlanta defensive end John Abraham. Only Aldon Smith of San Francisco (17.5), Houston’s J.J. Watt (16.5), Von Miller of Denver (15) and Miami’s Cameron Wake (11) have more sacks than Houston.
Hali’s six sacks have gone for 39 lost yards.
“Their outside pass rushers are extremely talented, much like you see in other 3-4 schemes,” Shurmur said. “Houston and Hali are very good pass rushers as individual rushers. They don’t pressure a great deal because they can get pressure with their outside rushers.”
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