How will the Browns defense change their approach to compensate for the loss of Myles Garrett?

CLEVELAND – It’s been a rollercoaster week and a half for Cleveland Browns after last week’s Thursday night win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

From the lowest of lows to losing in one of the most incredible fashions against the Jets, to getting back on track with an emphatic win against the Steelers on national television, to this week’s horrific car accident involving Myles Garrett that will keep him out of tonight’s game in Atlanta.

RELATED: Cleveland Browns star Myles Garrett is out against the Falcons after a car accident

Here are the Week 4 Keys to Win for the Cleveland Browns in their 1-2 game against the Atlanta Falcons:

1. Prevail time of possession

Myles Garrett will miss tonight’s game and Jadaveon Clowney is ruled out against the Falcons as of this story’s publication. Filling the void left by Garrett is a nearly impossible task that will only get worse if Clowney can’t leave. Starting DT Taven Bryan is also out, leaving a possible three defensive linemen for the Browns’ defense today.

The Browns’ running and passing game has been one of the best in the NFL this season. Nick Chubb leads the NFL in rushing yards with 341 yards through three games, and Kareem Hunt has added 151. Few would have predicted this would happen this season, but Jacoby Brissett is among the NFL’s top 10 quarterbacks in completion percentage with 66, 3% of his passport.

The lack of a pass rush will make any offense look more competent than they look right. Limiting total possessions for Marcus Mariota and the Falcons will be one of the biggest keys.

2. Please stand up, the real Denzel Ward

One of the biggest and most unfortunate surprises for the Cleveland Browns is the shaky play of All-Pro CB Denzel Ward. In Week 2 against the Jets, he was credited with 5 receptions for 112 yards and 2 TDs.

Week three didn’t get any better for Ward. Pro Football Focus rated Ward as the Browns’ lowest-rated player in Week 3. And three weeks later, when he was targeted, he allowed a passer rating of 132.3. No other cornerback in the ENTIRE NFL allowed a higher passer rating when targeted.

Ward will have a tough matchup against rookie Drake London today. London was a bit of a sensation on a Falcons team that wasn’t expecting much buzz in 2022. He has 16 receptions for 214 yards (13.4 yards per reception) and a touchdown in each of the last two games.

The Browns desperately need Ward to return to his usual form as Myles Garrett misses tonight’s game and Jadaven Clowney will likely be limited even if he does get on the field.

3. The next person

I’m going to list the likely candidates who will have a chance to get a significant amount of playing time today in Garrett’s absence. You have to promise me you’ll take a deep breath before you read the list. We’ll get through this together:

  • Alex Wright
  • Isaiah Thomas
  • Curtis Weaver
  • Isaac Rochelle

A whopping zero career starts in the top three on the list and a total of 9 starts in six years for Isaac Rochelle.

This is the opportunity of a lifetime for one, if not more, of the group of guys listed above. Neither is the freak of nature that Garrett is, but the Browns don’t need to replace Garrett’s 1-on-1 impact. The four-man group needs to create some semblance of a pass rush to allow the talent in the defensive backfield to be effective.

The pressure on the Cleveland Browns to pile up wins to stay in the AFC North race throughout the year makes games like tonight against a team clearly less talented than them all the more important. They could be dealing with a less than 100% Myles Garrett for at least the next month.

The loss of Garrett can’t be underestimated, but the Browns should have enough to take on the Falcons in Atlanta this afternoon.

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