How Jim Schwartz Has Already Transformed the Browns' Defense

The unit is already looking MUCH better.

Jim Schwartz completely transformed the Browns' defense for Week 1, and it paid dividends.
Jim Schwartz completely transformed the Browns' defense for Week 1, and it paid dividends. / Nick Cammett/GettyImages

I've been telling anybody who will listen this offseason how the Browns' pass rush alone is going to be enough to make them a contender. But even I didn't expect it to be as absurdly dominant as it was in Week 1.

Yes, Myles Garrett, Za'Darius Smith and Dalvin Tomlinson deserve a lot of credit for that, but let's not forget the man who is putting everything together.

Jim Schwartz has already made massive improvements to Cleveland's defense, and those changes are paying dividends.

The Bengals have invested huge amounts into their offensive line over the last two offseasons, and protecting Joe Burrow is priority number one in Cincy. The result? The Browns had one of the most dominant pass-rushing games in recent memory. Burrow had almost 15% less time to throw on each dropback than he did on average last year.

Pro Football Focus credited Za’Darius Smith with 4 QB hits, which was tied for the league lead among all edge rushers. 

Smith and Myles Garrett each also got credit for 6 pressures, which were both tied for No. 6 among all edge rushers. They also both ranked top-10 on the edge in PFF’s pass rush grade. 

But we knew those guys were elite. Where does Schwartz come into play?

First of all, right from the jump he used Garrett in a way we've never really seen — as a pass rusher from the interior linebacker position.

It's no secret that Garrett was having fun getting to mix up his position, too, and you've probably already seen just how much fun he had with it:

And Schwartz' play-calling was absolutely on point. There were times when it was clear right from the snap that the Bengals were screwed.

This is a team that really struggled to get after opposing passers in 2022 (aside from Garrett, obviously). Our 18.2% pressure rate was sixth-worst in the NFL, despite the fact that Garrett had the eighth-most pressures for any player.

So what happens when you take one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, surround him with even more talent talent and put them all in the perfect scheme? Good things, it turns out.

This Cleveland team has exploded into the national conversation as having the potential to be a real contender, and that starts with what Jim Schwartz did to completely embarrass one of the NFL's best passing offenses from recent years.

Just imagine what he's going to do to Kenny Pickett on Monday.

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