Our usual Tuesday rollout was delayed a bit because the Browns were busy on their off day. And, well, that followed into Wednesday.
Needless to say, things get a little busy when you're solidifying the future of your interior offensive line.
We're tackling three of your questions on a Thursday.
Malcolm Smith was the unsung hero on last year's defense. This year, it appears to be Troy Hill, the best tackler on the team. Can someone send him some love? — Roscoe B., Leucadia, California
Love ... Sent!
And you couldn't have picked a better week to submit this request. Hill is coming off one of the best, and most unique, games of his career. He entered Sunday's game in Cincinnati with just one career sack and left with three. He nearly had three on the day, but one was wiped from the board and later credited to LB Anthony Walker Jr. Still, it was a reflection of Hill's opportunistic playing style and his overall toughness. The veteran slot corner plays with an edge, and that's ideal for what defensive coordinator Joe Woods wants from the position. As the Browns showed plenty of times last year, they love providing that kind of surprise threat to quarterbacks from the place you'd least expect it.
"He is really good in his run fits," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "He is a good blitzer. He plays sticky in coverage. He is very, very competitive and very, very tough. I enjoy being around him, and I think his teammates enjoy being around him. He just brings an edge to that group."
Shameless plug: Check out my interview with Hill on this week's Browns Live!
Check out exclusive photos from the practice fields at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus of the Browns preparing for their Week 10 game against the New England Patriots
Is the defense starting to find a groove with big plays? — Rob M., Charleston, West Virginia
It was as if you could hear the entire Browns fan base let out of a collective sigh of relief last Sunday when Denzel Ward snagged his first interception of the season and took it 99 yards to the house. At last, the Browns had the big turnover they'd been waiting for, and there were two more in the quarters ahead. Up until Sunday, the Browns defense had been objectively better in so many phases compared to last year, but they'd been significantly worse in the turnover department. At the midway point of 2020, the Browns had 14 takeaways. Until the Bengals game, this year's Browns defense had just five. That's a difference of nine game-changing plays. Without those, Cleveland's defense was playing with a thinner margin of error, especially during a stretch when the offense was dealing with numerous injuries.
These takeaways become an even bigger deal when you consider how well the offense has avoided turnovers. Cleveland is tied for fifth-best in the NFL with just eight giveaways on the season. Under Stefanski, the Browns have lost only once (Week 5 vs. Chargers) when they win the turnover battle. So, it's a simple formula. Create more takeaways, and the chances of winning grow exponentially.
"For us, there have been games, as you guys know, where we play really well and then there are games where we did not," Woods said. "For me, it is more about the consistency. It is really a week-in and week-out type of deal. I think the last couple of weeks, we have done a good job in terms of points allowed, but there are still things that we need to fix."
Do you feel as though Myles Garrett is capable of setting the NFL single-season sack record, based on his current pace and having a 17th game added to this year's schedule? — Nick D., Glendale, Arizona
Let's do some math, shall we?
At 12 sacks through nine games, Garrett is on pace for 22.66 sacks in the NFL's first-ever 17-game season. The NFL record for sacks in a season is 22.5, so Garrett is RIGHT on pace to match or potentially surpass Michael Strahan's impressive achievement. That said, sacks come in bunches (4.5 vs. Chicago comes to mind) and sometimes they don't come at all, and Garrett gets a lot of attention from opposing defenses on every single snap. Perhaps the most encouraging thing about Garrett's season to date is how consistent he's been. He's been held to zero sacks in just one game this season (Week 2 vs. Houston) and has registered multiples in three games.
"The first thing is he's playing really well," Woods said. "That is good for us and good for everybody.
Garrett also has a few Browns franchise marks in his sights with eight games to play.
— Already second on the Browns' all-time list, Garrett needs just eight more to become the team's all-time leader. He'd be passing LB Clay Matthews, who registered 62 sacks in 232 games. Garrett has played in 60.
— Garrett needs just 2.5 sacks to set the Browns' single-season record, which has been long held by Reggie Camp (1984).
— Garrett already holds the franchise record with 14 multi-sack games.