I'll start: First, we're SO banged up. We're missing no fewer than six "starters," including most of the SEC: Delpit, Mack, Phillips, Greedy (that's 4!), Vernon, and KJ. That's SIX GUYS, five of them tasked with covering people, something we're struggling with (except avoiding big plays).
BTW, we're avoiding big plays partially because teams are scheming against Garrett, who wins fast, by getting the ball out. It was clear the Bengals knew they couldn't wait for stuff to develop, something Aikman pointed out. If you can take a lead, it's so hard for teams to come back with sustained drives. So many chances for a holding penalty or turnover.
Orlovsky pointed out that you're seeing how the Browns want to win, which is to be much like last year's Titans, especially after they figured it out with Tannehill: Take play-action shots to take the lead, turn MG loose, and run the fuck out of the ball. They, along with SF/Minn, are our precedents for this O.
But back to the defense: Two guys outside of the stars who looked really good to me last night were Gustin and Malcolm Smith. I doubt they'll fall out of the rotation. I saw a lot of Tweets about Clayborn being as good or better than Vernon but that misses the point: Having both of them on the field at the same time causes serious trouble.
We have that to start with, an outstanding DL that's shutting down the run and scaring teams into playing the short game with the pass. Now we need to cover, especially TEs.
I know Sendejo piled up tackles but unless I missed it, I don't think our safeties defended a pass (corners had 3 each, that's a lot). I could be wrong, but it feels like Joseph and Harrison will be the starters sooner than later.
Getting Greedy and KJ back is the biggest issue of all, though. We need to get our deep depth off the field, like Thomas. He's not good. Not sure what that says about MJ or AJ but holy crap. Seeing Ward, Greedy, and KJ out there is gonna be a breath of fresh air. All three are likely to be out there a ton, and we'll settle into the 2-LB plan. Mack Wilson was thought to be LB1 by a lot of insiders, so when he's right, thinking he and Malcolm are the guys you want out there on passing downs. BJ is still a 2-down guy to my eye.
The Delpit loss was ginormous. Keep reading he had Joe Woods rubbing his hands together, wanted to move him all over the place. I have no idea what's going on with Redwine, but we should still be functional and maybe even good at safety once Harrison settles in.
Bottom line: The Browns offense is gonna keep getting better and the defense has been playing with about half its starters. If you have them on your schedule moving forward, you already missed your best chance to beat them.