The Cleveland Browns are hoping to be more of a factor in the AFC North next season, and are retooling their coaching staff in order to be more competitive.
The franchise has hired Jim Schwartz to be their new defensive coordinator. He will look to bolster a unit that was viewed as underwhelming under previous defensive coordinator Joe Woods, who was let go after the conclusion of the regular season.
The Browns wouldn’t appear to be far from respectability, as they alternated wins and losses in their final six games of the campaign.
There were not many candidates for the position that had more impressive experience than Schwartz. He’s been a mainstay in the league for over 20 years, starting out as a defensive coach under Jeff Fisher with the Tennessee Titans. Schwartz actually returned to the Titans in the last couple of seasons, helping to bring his knowledge to Mike Vrabel’s staff.
In addition to leading Tennessee’s defense from 2001-2008, Schwartz has also been a defensive coordinator with the Buffalo Bills in 2014, and most recently with the Philadelphia Eagles from 2016-2020. He ran the Eagles’ defense when the team won the Super Bowl in the 2017 season.
Schwartz has also been a head coach during his time in the NFL. He held that position down for five seasons with the Detroit Lions, compiling a 29-51 record from 2009-2013.
The Browns’ defense struggled in a few areas during the 2022 campaign, which Schwartz will look to correct during training camp. Cleveland finished in the bottom third of the league in some important categories, such as yards per rushing attempt, quarterback pressures and sacks. It didn’t feel like Cleveland’s defense had one part of the game that they could hang their hat on, which caused them to give up yards in a bunch of ways.
Schwartz’s job will be made easier by Myles Garrett, who continues to prove that he’s one of the elite pass rushers in the NFL. Despite Cleveland’s lackluster team production revolving around getting to the quarterback, Garrett’s play has remained impressive. He logged 16 sacks in the 16 games that he appeared in this season. Finding someone else to provide a threat off of the edge should make Cleveland more formidable. Schwartz may also elect to blitz more to generate that pressure.
Locker Room Dynamics
Kevin Stefanski has largely done a solid job with the Browns, as his run-first approach allows the Browns to establish play action passes to keep the defense guessing. However, a slow start and a sputtering offense may cause the organization to re-assess his job security, considering that they’re guaranteeing Deshaun Watson a significant sum of money.
Should Cleveland’s season start to go south quickly, it’s possible that Schwartz could get a look as an interim option if Stefanski was shown the door. Schwartz hasn’t proven to be a solid head coach in the NFL, but his personality could help galvanize a team if it needs a boost.