Do the Cleveland Browns actually have a good defense?

Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns aren’t doing a lot well this year, but their defense has been holding its own by a couple notable measures.

At 0-9, the Cleveland Browns are the last remaining winless NFL team this year. That feat of sorts is nothing new, as they have a long run of futility going and are 1-24 in two seasons under head coach Hue Jackson.

Gregg Williams’ unit has been put in bad positions a lot though, due to rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer’s league-high 12 interceptions and a league-high 23 giveaways overall. But it has not all been bad for the Browns defense over their first nine games.

The Browns have not gone against a murder’s row of the best running backs and quarterbacks in the NFL thus far. But they did face Le’Veon Bell (10 carries for 32 yards) and Ben Roethlisberger (263 passing yards) in Week 1, and they held Marcus Mariota (Week 7) and Matthew Stafford (Week 10) to less than 250 yards through the air.

On Sunday, the Browns will take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has one 300-yard passing game this season and is coming off a season-high in pass attempts last week. Fantasy football people will see a very favorable matchup for Bortles this week, but actually delivering on it is another matter.

Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette has three 100-yard games on the ground this year, and he’s seventh in the league in rushing with 629 yards. But he missed two games prior to a Week 9 bye, due to an injury and a disciplinary issue, then put up a dud last week (17 carries for 33 yards).

An ongoing ankle issue has limited Fournette in practice this week, so he’ll be at less than full strength if he is active. And the prospect of playing in Cleveland’s cold weather this weekend is already in his head.

There’s not a lot for Browns fans to take solace in, this year or at any point in the recent past. But their defense appears to be putting forth its best effort on a weekly basis.

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