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Analyzing the Browns defensive front against the Ravens run game

Cleveland leads the NFL in stopping the run on third down

Defense front

The Browns will travel to Baltimore on Saturday for their Sunday afternoon matchup against the Ravens. The key matchup to watch out for will be the Ravens' top-ranked running offense against the Browns' strong defensive front seven. Both groups are the strong points of their respective teams and are the best-rated in their category in the league.

The Ravens lead the league in rushing yards with 1,443 and rushing touchdowns with 14. They have the most rushing first downs in the league with 85 and are third with runs over 20 yards with nine. They average 4.8 yards per carry, which is second in the league.

What makes their run game so hard to stop is the running ability of QB Lamar Jackson. He's one of the fastest starting quarterbacks in the league, and his agility is impressive. Jackson is averaging 5.4 yards per carry this season and has rushed for a royal of 440 yards. He has also scored five rushing touchdowns. Jackson rushed for two touchdowns in the Browns first meeting this season against the Ravens. 

"He made some scramble plays and some quarterback run plays in the first game that we played, and we'll have to do better on those," DC Jim Schwartz said. "We did a lot of good things in the first game, too. Didn't play a consistent game, didn't finish the game well, but there's a lot to build on from that game."

The Ravens running game also includes RB Gus Edwards, who leads the team in rushing with 478 yards and touchdowns with seven. In Week 9, Edwards rushed for 52 yards and two scores.

Check out photos of the team working to prepare for the Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens activated another running back to their rotation in Keaton Mitchell – who had never carried the ball in the NFL before Sunday – rushed for 138 yards and scored a touchdown during the Ravens' 37-3 victory over the Seahawks.

"They got a three-headed monster over there, sometimes four," LB Anthony Walker Jr. said. "So each back brings a different presence. Just fundamentals, technique, all that we do and it's going to take all eleven of us to stop and run."

Stopping the Ravens run game hasn't been done all season, but the Browns have a front seven that can be the first. The Browns defense is fifth in the league in rush yards allowed and are tied for fifth in yards per carry allowed. They are first, however, in stopping the run on third downs. The Browns have given up the second-fewest first downs when a team runs with 34.

In Week 4, the Browns had a mediocre performance in stopping the Ravens run game. No Ravens rusher had over 50 yards. Edwards and Jackson averaged only 3.0 yards per carry. The longest run on the day was 22 yards by RB Justice Hill.

The defensive front's performance against the run was respectable but not perfect because Jackson scored two touchdowns, and they had only forced one turnover. 

What is key for the front seven in Sunday's game is to force Jackson into making bad decisions. They have to make him uncomfortable early so he can make mistakes that can lead to turnovers.

In nine games this season, Jackson has fumbled ten times and lost six. While he is a threat to run the ball, Jackson is prone to cough up the football. In his career, Jackson has fumbled 52 times and lost 21 fumbles. Only two quarterbacks since 2018 have fumbled more than Jackson. 

"We're trying to take the ball away every game, regardless of who the quarterback is," DL coach Ben Bloom. "So, part of our weekly routine is we'll watch the quarterback, see how he moves in the pocket, see his behavior when he gets pressure, how he holds the ball. We're going to need four guys rushing together relentlessly throughout the game to accomplish those types of things and get the ball for our team."