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The Opposing View: An Insider's Look At The Seahawks' Week 8 Opponent, The Cleveland Browns

Five questions about this week’s opponent from; five answers from staff writer Kelsey Russo.

Cleveland Browns quarterback PJ Walker (10) throws during an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Cleveland Browns quarterback PJ Walker (10) throws during an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The Seahawks are home for a second straight week and will be breaking out their throwback uniforms for the first time when they host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. This matchup features a pair of 4-2 teams with playoff aspirations, and in this week's game, the Seahawks will be facing one of the league's top defenses. To help you get ready for this week's matchup, we reached out to staff writer Kelsey Russo with five questions about this week's opponent.

With quarterback Deshaun Watson out this week, what has P.J. Walker shown while filling in the past two weeks?

Russo: I think he's shown a lot of resilience. He's grown more comfortable in the Browns offense over the last two games, learning what his receivers like and has continued conversations with that core group.

It hasn't been perfect, as he's thrown three interceptions over the last two games and been sacked four times. He has a completion percentage of 50 percent. Yet, overall, he's managed to lead the Browns to two wins over the last two weeks and make big plays when it has mattered the most. I think of the Browns final drive against the Colts as they marched down the field to eventually set them up in the red zone for the rushing touchdown by RB Kareem Hunt.

Having a full week of practice knowing that he will start on Sunday against the Seahawks can prove beneficial in his preparation. It provides a bit of consistency and takes away the uncertainty heading into the game.

What has allowed the Browns defense to make the leap it has from being a solid unit last year to one of the NFL's best this year? Is it as simple as the change at defensive coordinator, changes in personnel, both? And on a related note, how concerning, if at all, was last week's game that saw the Colts score 38 points?

Russo: To me, it's a combination of things. First, the Browns defense has a ton of talent across the board, from their front seven through their secondary. However, bringing in DC Jim Schwartz really has made a difference. His approach of owning the intangibles in their level of swagger, how they celebrate big defensive stops and one another has created a culture for this defense – and it's spread to the rest of the team as well. This Browns defense has some big personalities, and Schwartz celebrates those personalities. It has allowed guys to play to their strengths and support one another in their successes. They have goals of being the best defense in the league and they wholeheartedly believe that, and I think the way they are playing with a high level of confidence allows them to execute week in and week out.

Last week's game against the Colts did raise a bit of concern, but it's sort of two-fold. On one hand, they doubled their turnovers on the season, with three forced fumbles and an interception. Yet, they gave up explosive plays throughout the game and five touchdowns, which was the most they have given up all season. As players have addressed the Colts game this week, I don't think there is long-term concern. They acknowledged their mistakes and struggles with tackling and knew that they did not play to their standard defensively. I would not expect it to be an issue moving forward.

The Browns have committed the second most turnovers in the NFL (14) and rank 29th in turnover differential (minus-6), which is usually a recipe for losing games, and yet they're currently 4-2. How are they overcoming those turnovers, and how concerning is that issue for the offense?

Russo: It definitely is a concern for the offense, especially as the Browns have talked about the importance of ball security and not committing those turnovers. I think some of this goes into their quarterback situation and have had to use rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Walker as Watson as dealt with the shoulder injury; but the ball security also comes down to their running backs and receivers to protect the ball as they move downfield.

However, I think they've been able to overcome it because of the level that their defense is playing at this season. Even as opposing teams' offenses take the field after a turnover, they haven't always been able to capitalize on that turnover offensively because the Browns make the necessary defensive stops. The Browns have the best opponent third down percentage in the league, with teams converting only 27.5 percent of the time. So, it keeps opposing teams from scoring frequently off those turnovers, which is crucial when they have the second most turnovers in the NFL.

What player or players, outside of the obvious big names, do you see as being a potential X-factor in this game?

Russo: I think a potential X-factor could come in the Browns passing game. WR Amari Cooper has been their top target throughout the season, as he has 47 targets and 24 receptions for 389 yards and one touchdown. WR Elijah Moore has the most receptions on the team with 25 for a total of 226 yards. Yet, the Browns have depth in their receiving core and could look to involve more guys. Someone like WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, who has eight receptions for 97 yards this season, could provide another option for the Browns offense in the passing game. The Seahawks defense allows a passing completion percentage of 67.1 percent, which is 22nd in the league. They allow on average six yards per pass attempt, which is tied for seventh in the league, and have given up seven passing touchdowns.

What matchup or matchups are you most looking forward to seeing play out on Sunday?

Russo: I'm looking forward to seeing how the Browns run defense handles RB Kenneth Walker III, who has been so good for the Seahawks this season – especially after his first 100-yard game last week against the Cardinals. He has rushed for 450 yards on 109 carries and six rushing touchdowns. He also excels at creating missed tackles – which was an issue for the Browns against the Colts. The Browns have allowed a total of 563 rushing yards this season, which is fifth in the league, and allow an average of 3.7 yards per carry. I think it could be an interesting matchup in the sense of how the Browns handle the Seahawks run game, especially with how the Seahawks try to marry the run and the pass.

The Seahawks and Browns face off on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023. Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m. PT. Take a look back through history at the Seahawks' matchups against the Browns.

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