CLEVELAND -- When the Cleveland Browns hired Ray Horton to be the defensive coordinator on Jan. 18, 2013, the aggressive coach wanted “big men that could run and little men that could hit,” and he got both of those in the season-opening, 23-10, loss to the Miami Dolphins Sunday.
The Dolphins tried to establish a running game early at FirstEnergy Stadium, but the Browns had none of it. They held Miami to 20 rushing yards on 23 running plays, tied for the second-fewest rushing yards ever allowed by the Browns.
“Defensively, we shut down the run,” said linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. “We made them one-dimensional at times.
“We have a good group. You can’t win them all, but I take a lot of positives from what happened today. No one can run on us. That is making a team one-dimensional. Anytime you can do that and establish that early, your chances of winning go up. Teams respect what we have up front.”
Daniel Thomas was Miami’s leading rusher, gaining only 14 yards on eight carries, while rookie Lamar Miller managed three yards on 10 rushing attempts.
As a team, Miami had six rushing plays that went for negative yardage.
“I thought we were able to do a good job against the run today, against Miami’s run offense,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. “I think we were able to get pressure on the quarterback. From a resiliency standpoint, the guys battled.”
In addition to their effectiveness against the run, the Browns’ defense registered four sacks and seven total hits against Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
“We were able to get after the passer,” Jackson said. “He didn’t have a lot of time to throw the ball. If we weren’t getting him down, there were a lot of hurries. They had to go to a seven-man protection. That was their answer for our rush. There was a lot of good that came from that game.”
During the offseason, the Browns made a concerted effort to improve at the line of scrimmage, and added three defensive players in the first two days of free agency with the signings of linebackers
Bryant matched a career high and led the Browns with two sacks of Tannehill, while Groves and Kruger collected the other two sacks on the Dolphins’ passer.
“All of them made a great impact,” Browns defensive lineman