The Browns defense has been at their best when Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has been at his best.
That was certainly evident last week when Owusu-Koramoah, a second-round rookie linebacker, recorded his best game yet as a pro: four tackles, one quarterback hit, one tackle for a loss and two passes defensed. The Browns, of course, limited the Bears to just one net passing yard and 47 net offensive yards — both the lowest they've ever allowed against an opponent.
Owusu-Koramoah, who was a candidate for NFL's Rookie of the Week, has been one of the most notable defensive standouts due to his rookie status. It's clear the Notre Dame product has adjusted quickly to the speed of the NFL, and linebackers coach Jason Tarver is excited to see how high Owusu-Koramoah, who's one of the youngest players on the Browns at 21 years old, grows by the end of the season.
"What Jeremiah did well was staying in his process … and starting the plays correctly," Tarver said Friday. "Just his patience at the beginning of the play and how he was able to fit and move, and he got more in the groove than he had before. That was really cool to see. When he stays in his process and when we all stay in our process, that's when we can be our best."
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Tarver hasn't only been impressed at the plays Owusu-Koramoah has made on the field, but also at how quickly he identifies and owns up to making mistakes. Even though Owusu-Koramoah has graded out as one of the best rookies of the 2021 class so far, his game has been far from perfect — that's always expected for a rookie just three games into his NFL career.
But Tarver is encouraged by the body language Owusu-Koramoah shows when he makes mistakes.
He doesn't slump over and lose energy. He lets Tarver know he's going to learn from it, become a better player and immediately turn his focus on the next play.
"He knew what he should have done," Tarver said, pointing out how Owusu-Koramoah corrected himself at one point of practice Friday. "When you are conscious in the moment, that is when that happens faster for anyone. We talk about the best ones play one play at a time.
"Next play is the best play. That's our mindset. That's how when you are in that focus and feel it, and you go 'Oh, I should have done this. He's getting good – not just Jeremiah, but all of the guys look over and go, 'I should have done this, Coach.' I just go 'Yep.' If you can fix it right away, that's cool."
RBs thrive on patience
It's never safe to rule out the Browns running backs from putting together big numbers before a game ends.
Stump Mitchell, the Browns run game coordinator and running backs coach, knows that's a big mistake for an opposing defense. The Browns are committed to running the ball no matter what, and that's because Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are too difficult to bring down consistently for four full quarters.
Eventually, the opponent is going to lose the energy needed to stop them. That happened Sunday, when Chubb was stifled early in the game but still managed to finish with 84 yards thanks to damage done from Hunt, who was a bit harder for the Bears defense to bring down in the early parts of the game. Hunt finished with 155 total yards and paved the way for Chubb to still hit a quality rushing total with 42 yards in the fourth quarter.
"Going into that ball game, we knew it was going to be tough running against those guys," Mitchell said. "They had only given up less than 80 [rushing] yards their first couple of ball games so we knew it was going to be tough sledding. We thought in the second half we would be able to wear them down a little bit, and that's what we did."
Walker keeping up with Browns' LBs
Anthony Walker Jr. has been sidelined since Week 2 with a hamstring injury suffered in practice, but he hasn't stopped continuing to be a leader and teacher for the other teammates in his position group.
Tarver commended Walker for not showing any change in his attitude despite missing practice every day and sitting out of the Browns' first two home games.
"Anthony is wonderful," Tarver said. "He cares about each and every person being their best. He helps with that on and off the field. I can't say enough about him, and he's great not only with the linebackers, but with our entire football team. I'm proud of him and impressed because sometimes when you get hurt, it's hard to be the same person every day because you get a little down and you can't play.
"Not Anthony. He's awesome."