Amid a winless season, the Browns' run defense has been a bright spot.
They hope it'll shine against the Bears on Sunday as Cleveland tries to earn its first victory against one of the NFL's better rushing attacks.
"When I first came here, that was one of the goals to get that changed and turned," coach Hue Jackson said Thursday. "I think (defensive coordinator) Gregg Williams and his staff and our defensive players have done a good job."
In 14 games, the Browns rank seventh against the run in yards allowed per game (96.1). The unit, buoyed by a young defensive line and emerging trio of linebackers, including Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert, has slowed top running backs such as Le'Veon Bell (10 carries for 32 yards), DeMarco Murray (18 for 59) and Melvin Gordon (19 for 77).
Now, they'll face Bears running back Jordan Howard, whose 1,069 rushing yards are the fourth-most in the NFL. Howard, a second-year player out of Indiana, broke out as a rookie, totaling 1,313 yards.
"He is a really consistent player. It is two years in a row of him doing exactly what he did as a rookie; he is doing in his second year," Jackson said. "He's a really consistent player. He plays within their scheme. He fits the ball in the right spots. He is a load to bring down. He has done a good job that way."
The good news for the Browns, who have two more opportunities to fend off a winless season, is that Chicago's strength matches up against what they do best on defense.
"There are times where there are a few runs that get out of there, but for the most part, I think our guys have done a really good job of bottling up the run and we have to continue to do so. There are some things that we can still do better. The guys know that, but overall, I am really pleased with where that is."