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What's hurting the Browns' pass defense? 'Slow, correct decisions are still wrong'

Posted Oct 20, 2017

Browns have allowed league-high 14 TD passes

Even if it took a step back last weekend against Houston, the Browns defense has shown promise this season.

Through six weeks, the group ranks eighth in yards per game and fifth against the run. Where Cleveland hasn’t been as good, however, is with its pass defense, allowing a league-high 14 touchdowns, including three against the Texans.

Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said that stat could be reflective of a young defense filled with first- and second-year players still finding their footing. It’s also indicative of a unit that has stood tough against opposing ground games.

“It shows a little bit of experience in those areas, it shows a little bit of indecision in those areas and it shows that we are forcing everybody to pick the ball up, and you are not going to get a chance to run it across with us,” Williams said Friday.

Williams stressed there’s something of a learning curve for rookies — the Browns who are still catching up to the speed of the NFL.

“At this game, slow, correct decisions are still wrong,” he said.

“They’ve been able to make decisions and go ahead and out-ability everybody else (in college) and your ability alone allows you to be better than the person you are playing against and you can get away with making slower decisions. At this level you can’t. Ability is pretty well-matched.”

That dynamic, Williams said, is something he’s focused on since taking over as the team’s defensive coordinator in January. And with one of the league’s youngest groups, it’s a process still very much taking place.

“Those are some of the things that we have come a long way with since I have gotten here, but we still have a long ways to go,” Williams said.

“We have to be able to make the correct decision faster. I was hired to correct the fast, wrong decisions. You hear that? Fast, wrong decisions. A slow, correct decision we can’t tolerate. We can’t tolerate those, and we have been close in several of those earned catches.”

To illustrate that point, Williams pointed to rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson’s third and final touchdown pass last weekend, a 3-yard strike to DeAndre Hopkins.

“Deshaun did everything we wanted him to do, and our guy falls down. There are those type of things – he didn’t do it on purpose – but we just have to fight through those kind of things,” Williams said.

“We’re getting a lot better. I have to not have a temper tantrum when those things happen on game day because they didn’t do it on purpose, but we can only take so much of that.”

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