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Browns D confident it can correct mistakes and bounce back in a hurry

The defense is making the most of a short week to correct mistakes from the past two games

The Browns defense doesn't need to be reminded that no one is going to wait for them to reach their potential. After two games where opponents have scored 30 or more points, they appear to be far from it.

They also know they don't have much time to fix the issues that have inflicted their performances, either.

Just three days separate the Browns from their next game: Thursday Night Football against the Denver Broncos at FirstEnergy Stadium. The quick turnaround isn't necessarily ideal for a defense that allowed 37 points Sunday against the Cardinals, who took advantage of several defensive flaws and extended the Browns' losing streak to two games, the first time a losing streak has occurred under head coach Kevin Stefanski.

But the Browns have no choice but to go to work, accelerate their week and prepare for an important non-divisional game.

"It's definitely a must-win game on a short week," S John Johnson III said Monday. "It's tough preparing for a team when you only have a couple days to get ready … but I think we've got the right guys in the building to get ready for the game."

Check out photos of the Browns against the Cardinals in week six

The defense watched the film Monday morning and likely will revisit it several times in the next 72 hours leading up to the Week 7 kickoff. They'll have a few walk-throughs and one standard practice to iron out where they need to be better — from communication to overall execution.

Neither of those traits were strong Sunday. 

The Browns allowed Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray to throw four touchdowns, which marks the second consecutive week in which a quarterback has passed for four scores against Cleveland. They haven't recorded an interception in that span, either, and have looked much different than the defense that held the Bears and Vikings to single-digit scores in Weeks 3 and 4.

Cornerback Denzel Ward said Sunday the group needs to do a better job of communicating in their pre-snap routines. Johnson and LB Anthony Walker Jr. both said Monday they need to do a better job of executing the play calls from defensive coordinator Joe Woods.

Both can be true. The bottom line, however, is that the defense has too much talent to be ranked in the bottom half of the league in points allowed — they currently rank 24th.

But they have plenty of hope that things can only go up. 

"You just have to take a step back and look at things for what they really are," Johnson said. "We've played three teams in the top 10 offensively. I think you have to step back and look at things for what they really are. We're a 3-3 football team with a bunch of games in front of us."

A quick fact check confirms Johnson's point. The Cardinals, Chiefs and Chargers all have offenses that rank in the top 10. The Vikings, whom the Browns limited to seven points in Week 5, are 11th. The Broncos, their next opponent, rank 21st.

Johnson, however, isn't saying the defense should be excused. The group has believed since the offseason they can be one of the best in the league, which means they have to consistently stand tall against the best. Their play hasn't shown that so far, but despite the high scoring totals from opponents, they still rank fifth in the league in yards allowed (1,846).

"We've played two great teams (in the last two weeks)," Walker said. "When we play great teams, we have to make them earn everything. At the end of the day, we can't have communication errors and we can't have blown assignments and expect to win. That's not going to happen."

There's room for growth, and the Browns have 11 games to prove they can find it.

To make matters more difficult, they learned Monday that LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah will miss "weeks," Stefanski said, with an ankle injury suffered late in Sunday's game.

Owusu-Koramoah, a speedy second-round rookie, was the team's leading tackler and one of the early frontrunners for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Now, the Browns will have to temporarily replace him while still looking for ways to raise their defense to a higher level.

"He was starting to come into his own," Walker said. "He was flying around and making plays all over the field. You miss him on the field … but we've got to have guys step up."

Ultimately, everyone on the defense has to step up — regardless of who's healthy. The product hasn't been what the Browns wanted it to be when they started the season, and changes will be made.

Now, they have three days to complete them. 

It's not the normal amount of time the group has to prepare for a big game, but it's all the time they need to review what's gone wrong and find ways to be better.

"Every week is different, and every week presents a new opportunity," Johnson said. "We're a tough team. We're a physical team, and once we get to that brand of football, we'll dominate."

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