Coming off their best game of the season, the New England Patriots will have to take their talents on the road again. The team of head coach Bill Belichick will square off against his former club, the Cleveland Browns, in Week 6.
The Browns, like the Patriots, are entering the game with a 2-3 record. They won their season opener in Carolina (26-24) before losing in miraculous fashion to the New York Jets (30-31) to drop to 1-1. Their next three games saw a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers (29-17) followed by back-to-back losses against the Atlanta Falcons (23-20) and Los Angeles Chargers (30-28).
Despite being below .500, however, the Browns are a talented if somewhat unbalanced team. Look no further than the numbers if you want confirmation of that:
- Record: 2-3 (2nd AFC North)
- Offense: 26.6 points/game (6th), 396.4 yards/game (4th), 0.129 EPA/play (3rd)
- Defense: 25.0 points/game (23rd), 353.8 yards/game (19th), 0.123 EPA/play (30th)
- Turnover differential: +/-0 (t-17th)
The Cleveland offense has been impressive so far this season considering that it is led by backup Jacoby Brissett in place of suspended starting quarterback Deshaun Watson. Having one of the best ground games in the league is a big part of that, but the passing offense cannot be underestimated either.
The same is true for the Browns’ defense, but for other reasons. The unit has struggled against the pass and especially the run so far this year. That said, it still has the likes of Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney and Jeremiah Owuwu-Koramoah in its ranks — three players capable of putting considerable pressure on any offense.
With that all said, let’s now jump right to the Browns’ active roster to get to know each of the players currently with the Patriots’ Week 6 opponent.
(Note: The 53-man roster is up-to-date as of Thursday 7 a.m. ET)
Jacoby Brissett, Joshuah Dobbs, Kellen Mond
The Browns invested considerable resources to acquire Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans this offseason, but he remains suspended after getting sued by more than two dozen women for alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault. With Watson out, Cleveland has turned to former Patriots third-round draft pick Jacoby Brissett.
Brissett has fared well in his five starts this season so far. He has completed 64 percent of his pass attempts for 1,060 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.
Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, D’Ernest Johnson
The Browns feature the NFL’s best rushing attack in yards per game and EPA, and it is not hard to see why when looking at their depth chart at running back. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are a legit one-two punch.
Chubb is the league’s leading rusher and has gained 593 yards on 98 carries while also finding the end zone seven times. Hunt, who also is an able receiver out of the backfield, has received 57 carries for 247 yards and a pair of scores. They are pretty good.
Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, David Bell, Anthony Schwartz, Demetric Felton, Michael Woods II
The Browns traded for former fourth overall pick Amari Cooper earlier this year, and he has quickly established himself as the team’s WR1. Cooper has caught 27 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns — leading Cleveland’s offense in all three categories.
Alongside him, Donovan Peoples-Jones has been the other starting wideout in the team’s 12-personnel based offense. He has been on the receiving end of 16 throws for 191 yards.
David Bell, Anthony Schwartz and converted running back Demetric Felton have all been depth pieces at the wide receiver spot.
David Njoku, Harrison Bryant, Pharaoh Brown
The Browns love to get their tight end involved in both the running and the passing games. David Njoku has been the top option so far, with Harrison Bryant as TE2 alongside him. Whereas Njoku has caught 24 of Jacoby Brissett’s passes for 289 yards and a score, Bryant has caught nine for 81.
The third spot in the lineup has been filled by Pharaoh Brown most recently, but neither he nor the man he helped replaced (injured Jesse James) have had much of an impact compared to Njoku and Bryant.
Jedrick Wills Jr., Jack Conklin, James Hudson III, Joe Haeg, Chris Hubbard
The Browns offensive line is one of the best in football, and it starts at offensive tackle. Former top-10 draft picks Jedrick Wills and Jack Conklin are the starters on the left and right side, respectively, and both have played some quality football for the organization.
Out of the backups, James Hudson deserves to be mentioned as well. He is the team’s OT3, and actually started the first two games in place of Conklin while he was still rehabbing a torn right patella tendon.
Interior offensive line
Joel Bitonio, Ethan Pocic, Wyatt Teller, Michael Dunn, Hjalte Froholdt, Drew Forbes
Even though the Browns parted ways with long-time starting center J.C. Tretter during the offseason, their interior offensive line remains a strength. Former Seahawk Ethan Pocic has done a fine job at center, but it obviously helps that he is being flanked by one of the NFL’s top guard duos.
Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller have been arguably the best left guard/right guard combo in the league since Teller joined the team in 2019. For as much publicity as the running backs are getting, the men up front deserve no less praise for the job they are doing — both inside and outside.
Interior defensive line
Jordan Elliott, Taven Bryan, Tommy Togiai, Perrion Winfrey
The Browns’ run defense has struggled this season, in large parts because the play along the interior D-line has been a problem. Jordan Elliott and Taven Bryan have been the main men at the position, but they have had their ups and downs.
Rotational reserves Tommy Togiai and Perrion Winfrey, who have also both been actively involved, have not fared a whole lot better.
Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney, Alex Wright, Isaac Rochell, Isaiah Thomas
For as inconsistent as the Browns have been at the heart of their defensive line, they have received some solid contributions along the edge. It is not hard to see why: Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney are two former first overall draft picks who are pretty capable of making life hard for the opposing defense.
Even though both have missed time so far this year, they have combined to register 4.5 sacks. Those numbers do not stand out — the Patriots’ top duo of Matthew Judon and Deatrich Wise Jr. have 10 total QB takedowns on their résumé — but opponents cannot allow to take either Garrett or Clowney, or the third member of the rotation Alex Wright, lightly.
Jacob Phillips, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Sione Takitaki, Jordan Kunaszyk, Tony Fields II
Led by Jacob Phillips and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, with Sione Takitaki as LB3, the Browns offer some impressive athleticism at their off-the-ball linebacker group. Phillips and Owusu-Koramoah are ranked second and fourth in tackles on the team, respectively, with the former also notching a pair of sacks.
Both of them have a knock for the football and can play some solid football in coverage as well. That said, the two have been a bit hit-and-miss against the run — only adding to Cleveland’s issues in that area (issues New England is more than capable of exploiting).
Greg Newsome II, Denzel Ward, Martin Emerson Jr., A.J. Green
Cleveland’s cornerback group is headed by a pair of first-round draft picks: Greg Newsome and Denzel Ward. Whereas Newsome has aligned both inside and outside depending on the Browns’ defensive alignment and personnel group, Ward is the top option on the perimeter.
The number three cornerback has been third-round rookie Martin Emerson. When the Mississippi State product is entering the field in three-corner nickel and dime looks, Newsome is usually moving to the inside.
Grant Delpit, John Johnson III, Ronnie Harrison, D’Anthony Bell
The Browns are not quite on the same level as the Patriots when it comes to using three-safety packages, but they too have not been afraid of putting Grant Delpit, John Johnson and Ronnie Harrison onto the field at the same time. That said, Delpit and Johnson are the clear 1-2 punch at the position.
Delpit in particular has been impressive. He has played all 308 defensive snaps through five games and is leading the team in tackles (30) and interceptions (1). Johnson has been no slouch either, though, missing only one defensive snap and providing quality play in the backfield as well; as opposed to the hyper-versatile Delpit, he is more of a traditional deep safety.
Cade York, Corey Bojorquez, Charley Hughlett
Cleveland’s specialists group has seen some turnover since last season, with rookie Cade York being added as kicker and Corey Bojorquez signed to do the punting.
Bojorquez, of course, is a former Patriot — and he is not the only one among the Browns’ specialists: long snapper Charley Hughlett had three separate stints with the organization in 2014. He has found a permanent home in Cleveland, though, since the team picked him up as a rookie.