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Football Outsiders talks about the impact that Gregg Williams will have on Cleveland’s defense

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In Part 3 of our preview with Football Outsiders, we learn some trends on defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and some other nuggets on the defense.

NFL: Cleveland Browns-OTA Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time for our final part of our Cleveland Browns preview with Football Outsiders! Vincent Verhei discusses what to expect from Gregg Williams as the team’s defensive coordinator, and what the outlook is on DE Emmanuel Ogbah. Remember to check out their 2017 Almanac, which costs just $20 for the PDF version.


DBN: “Can you tell us some interesting stats or notes about Gregg Williams' defense from LA and what Browns fans can expect to see (formations, tendencies, etc)?”

Vince: “I'm really glad you asked this question, because it led to a lot of fun research. Looking at Williams' three years with the Rams, some clear patterns emerge:

  • Williams likes to blitz a lot. His Rams were in the top eight each season in number of five-man rushes, and in the top five in how often he used six rushers or more.
  • However, those blitzers were rarely linebackers. As a group, Rams linebackers were in the bottom four each season in sacks at that position.
  • Obviously, then, those blitzers must come from the secondary. The Rams led the NFL in defensive back blitzes in each of the last two years, and they were second in 2014. This was on a team whose best players were all on the defensive line, so they really didn't need the help, but Williams never hesitated to fire with all weapons anyway.

It's important to remember that Williams has been coaching NFL defenses for two decades now. He has seen and done it all, and he should be able to adjust his schemes to fit the available talent. Jamie Collins, for example, had tremendous success on A-gap blitzes in New England, so Williams might try that tactic more this year than he did with the Rams. On the other hand, it's pretty fun to imagine Jabrill Peppers flying into the backfield and laying out the Flaccos and Daltons of the AFC North, isn't it?”


DBN: “A lot of the talk about Cleveland's pass rush in 2017 has been about rookie Myles Garrett, but should hopes also be high for second-year defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah?”

Vince: “There's definitely a lot to like about Ogbah. We had him rated as the third-best pass-rushing prospect in the 2016 draft, behind Leonard Floyd and Joey Bosa. As a rookie, he led the Browns in sacks, QB hits, and hurries despite playing out of position as an end-backer hybrid who spent too much time in pass coverage. In Williams' scheme, Ogbah will be a more traditional defensive end, who will benefit from the attention Garrett will draw, as well as the swarms of DBs joining in the pass rush. That should lead to a lot of one-on-one opportunities. I don't know if double-digit sacks are likely, but that's definitely on the table.”


If you missed the first two parts of our preview, check them out below: