So many times throughout the history of the NFL there have been talks about playmakers. When hearing about these playmakers, they always seem to be mentioned on the offensive side of the ball. You always hear about the deep-threat receivers, the pass-catching running backs, or the just speedsters that need to get in space. It is not too often that you get a mention of the playmakers on defense.
Historically, when there is a defense that is top-flight, you hear of how there are many people on that team that act as gears, that generate power that the machine (the defense) uses to operate at high caliber force. You never seem to hear of a single player that makes that defense great; however, there are four teams that rely on that one or two players to give that defense and extra edge in the AFC North.
Cleveland Browns, Phil Taylor (DT) and Joe Haden (CB);
Now when people mention the Cleveland Browns, often are they under-appreciated, and or mocked for their lack of winning success, but rarely are they applauded for their competitiveness on defense. Obviously the “New Cleveland Browns” are not as storied of a franchise as say the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, or San Francisco 49′ers; however, as of late, they have had some success in the defensive department.
In 2011 the Browns Total Defense was ranked 10th overall in the NFL. This season, even though it has only been three, soon to be four games, they rank it the bottom of the NFL, at the 25th spot. Unlike some teams, the Browns have not been plagued with a significant amount of injuries, but the two players that have seemed to have a bigger impact that anticipated was that of defensive tackle Phil Taylor, and Cornerback Joe Haden (suspension).
In 2011 they ranked 2nd in Pass Defense giving up on average 184.9 yards per game. This season, they are ranked 27th against the pass. The team almost mirrors the 2011 Browns except for the absences of Taylor and Haden. So without the pressure of Taylor upfront to hurry the quarterback, and the absence of Haden, it has been tough going for the Browns.