Pressure on Browns Defense to Succeed in 2021

Pressure on Browns Defense to Succeed in 2021

Nick Pedone
3 years ago
3 min read
Pressure on Browns Defense to Succeed in 2021

Prior to the 2020 season, the Cleveland Browns made a big investment on the offensive side of the ball. It was a needed one after a disastrous 2019 season. That move paid off for the Browns, and they’re hoping to reap the same rewards this season on the defensive side of the football.

The defensive makeover should change the way the Browns operate on that side of the football. Last season, defensive coordinator Joe Woods was forced into playing lesser players and backups high numbers of snaps, whether it be due to injury or not. This season, things will be much different, at least that has to be the plan.

Joe Woods Comfortability

Adding the type of talent that the Browns did defensively gives Woods the opportunity to be very multiple in his looks as a defensive coordinator, especially on the backend. Adding the likes of John Johnson III, Troy Hill, and Greg Newsome II to the mix as new acquisitions gives Woods three players that all should be more talented than the guys they’re replacing last year. All three figure to be on the field plenty, and that’s before getting to Grant Delpit as he returns from a torn Achilles that ended his season in training camp last year before he could even make his NFL debut.  

It will be fascinating to see what packages are most often used by the defense in 2021. It seems like a safe bet there will be far more three-safety looks to have Johnson, Delpit, and Ronnie Harrison all on the field together at the same time. The usage of rookie jack-of-all-trades linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is another thing to watch as he could be used a number of different ways. Those four players, combined with Hill, will give the Browns the ability to mix and match with any personnel grouping that an opposing offense can throw at it. 

The D-Line

It’s difficult to get this far into thinking about the defense without bringing up all-world pass rusher Myles Garrett, but then again, he’s a known commodity. The only thing uncertain about him is exactly how high will his sack number climb in 2021.

Along the rest of the defensive line, questions remain. 

What exactly will the team receive from Jadeveon Clowney and Takk McKinley in terms of production? That obviously is yet to be seen. But more interesting, how often those three share the field in obvious passing situations could be another lever that Woods has to pull that didn’t exist last year. It may be one he needs to utilize considering the uncertainty that exists on the interior of the defensive line. Whether it is done of necessity or luxury, creativity on the line of scrimmage is likely to happen.

Added Defensive Pressure

Simply, this defense should be much more versatile in 2021 than it was in 2020. But with that versatility and newfound talent comes pressure. It would be premature to say that Woods is on the hot seat, and after one season with subpar talent to coach, he doesn’t deserve to be. But with the amount that’s invested in the defense this year, the expectations should mirror a level of success obtained by the offense last season.

While there may not be heat, there certainly is pressure to perform at a much higher level than defenses of past in Cleveland. Last year, the offense went from one that was filled with talent, to one that was one of the NFL’s best. That should be the same hope for the defense this year. There’s no question that the talent is there, but what the unit ultimately looks like will be fascinating to see.   

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