Amidst offensive struggles, Colts will face toughest challenge with Browns defense

The Indianapolis Colts are coming off a game where they struggled offensively, and they’ll try bouncing back against a dominant Cleveland Browns defense.
San Francisco 49ers v Cleveland Browns
San Francisco 49ers v Cleveland Browns / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Week 6 was the worst offensive performance of the season for the Indianapolis Colts. With Gardner Minshew starting, the Jacksonville Jaguars were committed to taking away the run, and the result was a 37-20 loss for Indy, where the offense committed four turnovers. Minshew threw for 329 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions, and the run game managed just 44 total yards.

With rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson likely headed for season-ending surgery, Minshew is expected to remain the starter for this season. That means the Colts have to figure something out, fast. Unfortunately, their next opportunity to get things right will be the offense’s toughest challenge of the season.

In Week 7, Indianapolis is hosting the Cleveland Browns. The Browns defense is currently playing at a historic pace; a unit like Cleveland’s is the last thing Indy needs to see right now.

Will Browns defense be too much for Colts?

Cleveland is currently playing at a historic level defensively. They’ll enter Sunday’s game at 3-2, thanks to the efforts of this defense. As the post above states, the Browns have given up just 1,002 yards in five games, the fewest by a team since 1971. Coincidentally, the team in 1971, that only allowed 836 yards through five games, was the Colts.

The impressive stats don’t stop there, though. Cleveland has the No. 1 passing defense, allowing just 121.4 passing yards a game, and the No. 4 rushing defense, giving up 79 rushing yards a game. The only thing this defense hasn’t been able to do is take the ball away, forcing just four turnovers on the season. That could have a lot to do with the fact that offenses don’t sustain many drives against them. The Browns have allowed just 51 first downs this season— the league average is 110.

Cleveland will enter Sunday’s game against the Colts coming off a win against the San Francisco 49ers— a team that many consider the most complete squad in the NFL. The Browns beat them with their backup quarterback PJ Walker. Following the 19-17 defensive battle, Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah had this to say about the 49ers:

"Your physicality is not necessarily tested until it is met by someone else who is physical."

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

This shows the mindset that Cleveland’s defense enters every game with. They believe they’re tougher and more physical than whoever is lined up across for them. The offense for the Colts will have to prove that’s not the case on Sunday.

There are already a ton of questions about Indy’s pass catchers, and this is a secondary that will definitely exploit any weaknesses. Additionally, the Colts are coming off a game where they didn’t establish the run game, because of the look that the defense presented. All that’s to say that if the Colts offense that was on the field against Jacksonville in Week 6 shows up in Week 7 against the Browns defense, it’s going to be a long day for Indianapolis.