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How the Browns run game matches up against the Rams defensive front

Cleveland’s running backs will look to take advantage of an inconsistent Rams defensive front


As Sunday approaches, the Browns look to start a new winning streak after the Broncos ended their three-game winning streak last week. One key element that was surprisingly sluggish in Week 12 was the Browns run game. They went against a Broncos team that leads in rushing yards allowed. The group will look to make a bigger impact in Week 13 against the Rams defensive front.

The Browns running backs feature Jerome Ford, Kareem Hunt and Pierre Strong Jr., who will face off against the Rams defensive front. While the run game for the Browns has been the most consistent aspect of the offense, the Rams defensive front has been their defense's most inconsistent aspect this season.

The Rams have 25 sacks this season, which is 21st in the league. They are 16th in rushing yards allowed this season with 1,246. They allowed 11 rushing touchdowns this season, which ranks 21st in the league.

The group will have games where they stop the run very well, like they did in Weeks 11 and 12 when they held their opponents to under 100 rushing yards. But in Week 8 and 9, they allowed their opponents to rush for over 100 yards. The team gives up 4.2 yards per carry, which is 17th in the league.

Leading the group is the future Hall of Famer DE Aaron Donald, who has 38 tackles and 5.5 sacks this season. Although this may not be Donald's best season in terms of numbers, his mere presence on the field can always impact any game.

"Obviously a generational player," OC Alex Van Pelt said. "When you watch the tape and you're looking at everything as a whole, you tend to focus on him a lot. So he's going to command attention from us. He's going to be on both guards. Heck, he'll be out on the edges. They move him around based on where they think he can get a matchup. We're going to have to be very diligent with our understanding of where he is and how it affects everything with us."

Check out photos of the foundations and causes Browns players are highlighting on their cleats this week for the "My Cause My Cleats" game against the Rams.

Donald's job will be to try to sack the quarterback, but he and his colleagues will try to stop the Browns run game. Establishing the run for the Browns has been key for the offense in moving down the field.

The Browns lost twice this season when they couldn't run the ball. Against the Ravens in Week 4, they rushed for 93 yards, but the majority of the big runs came in the fourth quarter when the game was out of hand. Strong's 40-yard run in the fourth quarter exaggerated the final stats for the Browns.

Against the Broncos in Week 12, Ford and Hunt each had under 10 attempts – which is the first time this season not one running back had double-digit attempts in a game. The two rushed for 87 combined yards. 

Moving forward, the Browns can't afford to not establish the run due to ineffective drives when they strictly pass the ball. Ford has been good since he replaced RB Nick Chubb. Ford played well against the Broncos on limited attempts, as he averaged 7.2 yards per carry in that game.

"He definitely has grown up," Van Pelt said of Ford. "I'm really proud of his efforts, his ability to run the ball. He's popped some big runs for us, and he had three last week for ten yards, which was great. His approach is the same every day."

His running mate in Hunt had a great streak going on scoring touchdowns, but it ended against the Steelers. He went five straight games with scoring a touchdown. Hunt leads all skill players on the Browns in touchdowns with six.

"A lot of energy. He runs with reckless abandon," Van Pelt said. "He's very physical, very violent. His run style has been key for us, especially in some short yard situations, but always feel confident. We give Kareem the ball, he's going to get us the tough yards."

The recipe for success for the Browns this season has been running the ball effectively. Against the Rams, the opportunity to have a great day is there for the taking.