Towards the Cincinnati Bengals, the Cleveland Browns much-maligned protection gave up simply 36 yards speeding and held Joe Burrow to below 250 yards passing. Holding the Bengals, even when they had been with out Ja’Marr Chase to 229 complete yards is at all times spectacular however much more so given the workforce’s struggles.
One of many greatest modifications got here because of season-ending accidents to Anthony Walker Jr. and Jacob Phillips within the first half of the season. Fellow linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah additionally missed the sport which led to Sione Takitaki and Deion Jones shouldering the load for the protection’s second stage.
Takitaki was significantly impactful with a formidable stat line: 6 tackles, 7 assists (13 mixed). 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 FF. Often the workforce’s beginning SAM linebacker, which doesn’t play a ton of snaps, Takitaki slid in because the MIKE (center) linebacker towards Cincinnati. Tasked with dealing with the center of the protection, the previous third-round decide was excited to change roles:
I talked with #Browns LB Sione Takitaki final evening within the locker room after their win over the Bengals. He mentioned he is been ready for his alternative to play MIKE, normally getting restricted snaps at SAM, however he is excited for what issues appear to be going ahead. pic.twitter.com/pzO5g4T9DS
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) November 1, 2022
Not solely was Takitaki excited and put up high quality stats however Professional Soccer Focus gave him the workforce’s second-highest grade on that aspect of the ball (87.3) behind Myles Garrett.
The BYU product hasn’t made a huge effect in his time in Cleveland. Earlier than this season, his 43% of the workforce’s defensive snaps in 2020 was his most. Final yr that dropped to twenty-eight% with simply 10% as a rookie. At the moment, Takitaki is at 56% of the workforce’s snaps with 276 whereas additionally taking part in his normal portion of particular groups (66%).
With the foremost accidents and Jones nonetheless working his means again into high type, Takitaki has an opportunity to take over because the workforce’s beginning MIKE linebacker going ahead. He confirmed the power to suit run gaps properly whereas additionally taking part in in house:
With John Johnson III taking on play-calling duties once more, Takitaki doesn’t have that obligation to fret about within the center. He can play downhill within the run recreation and he has additionally proven a knack for creating stress together with this strip sack of Burrow this week:
This isn’t the primary week that the previous Cougar has regarded good. Cory Kinnan did a movie breakdown of Takitaki nearly a month in the past exhibiting how properly he’s taking part in which included this assertion:
There are few gamers within the league who know their position is predominantly to do the soiled work and hold their teammates clear. Takitaki is a kind of gamers who is aware of his position and is more than pleased to do it.
Maybe it is only one week. Maybe it was a fluke as a result of Cincinnati has a poor offensive line, barely ran the ball and didn’t have Chase. Or, maybe, Takitaki is part of the reply to Cleveland’s defensive struggles on the MIKE spot.
Are you stunned by how properly Takitaki has been taking part in and his capacity within the center?