The Cleveland Browns introduced new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz on Wednesday and the veteran coach stressed accountability in his opening press conference, especially for the team’s star players.
The Browns’ defense has struggled to find consistency over the last two seasons and leadership has played a role in that. Schwartz stressed that accountability will be a key ingredient in the team’s success, starting with guys like Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward.
“The secret sauce is getting guys playing together and that accountability that goes into it,” Schwartz said. “I would say this, if I’m doing a good job, we’ll hold our best players the most accountable. And if you start from that position, then everything else is gravy.”
The Browns were not on the same page multiple times last season, resulting in blown coverages and a lack of ability to stop the run. Safety John Johnson III expressed after the season that he felt simplifying things and letting guys do what they do best in key situations would help remedy those issues.
“I wouldn’t say it was too complex schematically, but I would say in certain moments in the game, yeah, maybe we didn’t need to trick ourselves trying to trick the other team,” Johnson said. “Maybe we could just line up, get our cleats in the ground and make plays, ’cause that’s when we’re at our best. When we’re panicking and stuff like that that’s when you see you guys running wide open. When we got our cleats on the ground we’re a pretty good defense.”
Schwartz Focused on Amping up Pass-Rush
With how the game has evolved, Schwartz was clear in his assessment that having pressure up front is the best way to impact the game. Luckily for Schwartz, he’ll get to work with one of the best defensive ends in all of football in Garrett, who is coming off back-to-back 16 sacks seasons.
“The way you affect the game the most in this league is through pass rush,” Schwartz said. “We’re going to put a lot of emphasis on pass rush. We’ll set the bar high at the position.”
The key to the offseason for the Browns will be finding more help when it comes to getting to the quarterback. Garrett’s sack number was large but the rest of the team accounted for just 18 — with his defensive line partners notching just 10.
“That is certainly a position group that we do value and we will continue to value, no different than the offensive line on the offensive side of the ball,” Browns general manager Andrew Berry said in his season-ending press conference. “We will continue to invest in it and make those decisions at the appropriate time.”
Schwartz: Bar Set High for Garrett for a Reason
Garrett was one of the most double-teamed defenders in the league last season, with teams able to key in on him due to the lackluster talent around him and partly a lack of creativity from the previous coordinator, Joe Woods.
Schwartz has a history of revving up sack numbers and plans to give Garrett some “answers” to make him even more productive.
“It is my job to give him some answers and to be able to put some pieces scheme wise and personnel wise around him to allow him to be free and more productive. When I say more productive, what?  sacks? That answers your question; the bar is set really high for a good reason.”
Garrett has not spoken publicly about the hire yet but he should be excited by Schwartz’s initial comments.