The Browns are coming off their first road win of the season after they beat the Colts 39-38 in Indianapolis. Cleveland improved to 4-2 on the season, and head into their third road game this season as they prepare to face the Seahawks in Seattle on Oct. 29.
As we head into Week 8 of the season, we opened the mailbag and answered your questions.
My question is about Myles Garrett blocking the field goal attempt. How did that come about? Best play of the year so far! – Kathy Weishampel, Cuyahoga Falls, OH
With 10:16 left in the second quarter, the Browns special teams' unit lined up across from the Colts kicking unit as K Matt Gay attempted a 60-yard field goal. As the Colts snapped the ball, Garrett leapt over their offensive line and jumped to block the field goal. It was Garrett's second blocked field goal of his career. That blocked field goal, followed by CB Denzel Ward's return of the loose ball set up K Dustin Hopkins for a 44-yard field goal to give the Browns a 17-14 lead.
Following the game, Garrett explained how that blocked field goal came about.
"I've actually done it a couple of times throughout the years every now and then, just to keep our special teams honest, just for fun," Garett said. "And I think (special teams coordinator) Bubba (Ventrone) went into the archives and saw it, he was like, yeah, we have to bring this out. And we had the candidate in the Colts who allowed us to jump over, and I made the play."
Garrett said he has jumped over the offensive lineman in practice before, describing it as his "Friday special teams."
"We do it as kids, why not now?" Garrett said as he laughed.
And when asked if it's easy to jump over an offensive lineman, Garrett said, "It depends if you're me or not."
G Wyatt Teller has been on the opposite side of Garrett's hurdle in practice and seen how Garrett can jump over the guard.
"I think when we were going over it, I was like, 'How low should I be?'" Teller said. "He goes, 'Just don't pop up. You know what I mean? At the end of the day, just don't pop up.' You don't have to be too low to the ground because it's got to be like a game-like situation."
And Garrett's execution on Sunday in Teller's eyes was perfect in how he palmed the ball and blocked the kick.
"95 is the real deal," Teller said.
I am happy the Browns have won the last two weeks. One also has to say the Browns have been lucky the last two games with a missed field goal in the 49ers game, and the late penalty against the colts on fourth down. My questions are how good is the Browns defense? I know they have had injuries. – Paul Morabito, Erie, PA
I think there are a couple of things here to break down and take a look at. The Browns defense has been pretty dominant this season overall. They are allowing the lowest number of total passing yards in the league with 895 this season. They allow the lowest completion percentage as well at 53.8 percent, as well as the lowest passing yards per game at 149.2. They also allow the lowest number of first downs with 72 this season – with the second lowest allowed by a team is 99 by the Cowboys.
On a week-to-week basis, they have put up some impressive defensive numbers. I think to your point about the 49ers game, the Browns played a solid game defensively. To hold an undefeated team at the time to only 17 points and put the type of pressure they did on QB Brock Purdy was impressive. Yes, it did come down to that last missed field goal, but the rest of the game was a strong defensive performance.
However, they did have some mistakes in the Colts game as they allowed the Colts to score 38 points, which is the most that any team has scored against the Browns this season. They gave up explosive plays and allowed the Colts to score five touchdowns.
And the defense was aware of their mistakes following the game. CB Greg Newsome said that they have to stick to their high standard for their defensive play. Giving up those explosive plays is not a part of their identity as a unit, and they know they have to improve that heading into Week 8 and beyond.
"I mean, we haven't given up that many explosive passes the whole entire season, and we gave up, I think might have been three or four that game," Newsome said. "So, that's definitely on us. In the back end, we got to play better. We're going to play some man; we're going to do some things like that. And when we play, man, we got to win. And Coach Schwartz is confident in us to win. So, at the end of the day, we just got to find a way to win. And as a secondary, we're going to be better next week."
Yet, the Browns also doubled their total takeaways on the season with four on Sunday, which was a necessary element to their success over the Colts. Forcing three fumbles and recording an interception helped shift the momentum for the Browns.
Even with an off week against the Colts, I don't think it completely takes away from the overall outlook on the Browns defense. The Browns have to both attack up front and then execute in the secondary. They can still be that suffocating defense that they have shown throughout the season.
Like everyone else, we're missing Nick Chubb. When he went down, it looked like Jerome Ford would be the number one out of the backfield, but it seems like Kareem Hunt is getting a larger and larger share of the snaps. What can we expect from them for the rest of the season? Will it be an even-ish split, or will one get the nod at RB1 over the other? – Joey and CJ R, Akron, OH
It's a great question, especially after the success we saw from both in Sunday's game against the Colts. For Jerome Ford to rush for 69 yards on the third play of the opening drive for the touchdown was big. And then for Kareem Hunt to battle through the game and score two rushing touchdowns demonstrated just how they can use both in the backfield and build a strong run game.
While Ford was named earlier as the featured back, OC Alex Van Pelt said they have been taking the approach of allowing the usage of each back to flow each week. Ford has been the starter since he was named the starter following Chubb's injury. Their goal is to always have a fresh back in the game, regardless of what down. Over the last couple of games, we've seen that approach in how they use Ford, Hunt and even Pierre Strong Jr. over the course of a game.
Executive vice president of football operations and general manager Andrew Berry said during the bye week that they view their running backs as more of a "platoon position," and more role based. We've seen that in the last few weeks since Hunt arrived in Cleveland and as he adjusted to the team and his carries have increased.
I think another element to this is that the Browns have been able to build on their success in the run game the last few weeks. The Browns average 147.5 rushing yards per game through six games, which is second in the league. They have found ways to increase their run game production with the help of Ford and Hunt in the backfield.
In Hunt's first four games, has rushed for 103 yards on 32 carries and has three touchdowns. His longest run was a 16-yard carry in Week 6 against the 49ers. Ford has rushed for 344 yards on 78 carries and two touchdowns through six games. He has had two 69-yard runs this season, which is a career-long.
What will be important to keep an eye on is Ford's ankle injury that he sustained in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against the Colts. HC Kevin Stefanski said that Ford was dealing with an ankle injury on Monday and will have more information later in the week.