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Browns’ defensive snap counts, stats, and PFF notes: Week 1

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Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward come off as stars in Week 1 as Cleveland forces 6 turnovers.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Below, we analyze the snap counts and stats on defense for the Cleveland Browns’ Week 1 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Defensive Line

Pos Player Plays % Stats
Pos Player Plays % Stats
DL Myles Garrett 84 100% 5 tackles, 1 assist (6 combined). 2 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 QH, 2 FF.
DL Larry Ogunjobi 79 94% 3 tackles, 4 assists (7 combined). 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH.
DL Chris Smith 57 68% 1 tackle, 2 assists (3 combined).
DL Trevon Coley 42 50% 1 tackle, 2 assists (3 combined).
DL Emmanuel Ogbah 27 32% 1 assist (1 combined).
DL Devaroe Lawrence 2 2% No stats registered.
  • Wow! Myles Garrett played every single snap of the game. That is definitely a difference maker from a year ago. No wonder he was exhausted. I’m not sure I quite agree with that high of a utilization, though — he should have a break every so often to stay fresh.
  • Entering the season, I started thinking to myself, “how can I not expect Myles Garrett to get a sack every week?” Sure enough, he opened with 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. There were a couple of negatives — a roughing the passer penalty, and then an illegal block in the back penalty on the interception return in overtime. But those forced fumbles in the fourth quarter are the only reason Cleveland found new life to spark their comeback. What an MVP-type weapon. PFF was a little more critical of Garrett:

What to make of Myles Garrett? He made two big plays, but couldn’t find a way past left tackle Alejandro Villanueva all game, although he did have more joy late when he moved inside to more of a 5-tech position against guard Ramon Foster. Still, his two big splash plays created points (though his two penalties cost the Browns points).

  • Unfortunately, the defensive end position outside of Garrett wasn’t much of a strength. Emmanuel Ogbah finished the game with an assist. Garrett also acknowledged that he tweaked his right ankle a little.
  • Larry Ogunjobi had an abnormally high number of tackles for a defensive tackle with seven, and his utilization was also through the roof at 94% of the snaps. That’s what happens when you cut Jamie Meder and Caleb Brantley all of a sudden; your depth of familiar players goes out the window to start the season, and Trevon Coley got hurt again.

Linebacker

Pos Player Plays % Stats
Pos Player Plays % Stats
LB Joe Schobert 84 100% 2 tackles, 6 assists (8 combined). 1 pass defended, 2 fumbles recovered.
LB Christian Kirksey 61 73% 3 tackles, 2 assists (5 combined). 1 pass defended.
LB Jamie Collins 51 61% 4 tackles, 2 assists (6 combined). 1 pass defended.
LB Genard Avery 43 51% 3 tackles, 1 assist (4 combined). 1 sack, 2 QH, 1 FF.
  • Right place, right time? I don’t care — I’ll take it for Joe Schobert. One of my keys for him this year was that he needed to take that next step and make more game-impacting plays, and recovering two fumbles counts.
  • Schobert played 100% of the snaps still, but Christian Kirksey was only in for 73% of the snaps after not missing one snap last year. Jamie Collins played 61% of the snaps.
  • The underrated weapon of the game was rookie Genard Avery, who seemed to be seeing action as more of a pass-rushing defensive end and played 51% of the snaps. He had the forced fumble in overtime (which initially appeared to be an interception for Schobert) to give Cleveland a shot at winning the game via field goal.

Cornerback

Pos Player Plays % Stats
Pos Player Plays % Stats
CB Denzel Ward 84 100% 2 tackles, 4 assists (6 combined). 2 interceptions, 3 passes defended.
CB Terrance Mitchell 67 80% 6 tackles (6 combined). 1 pass defended.
CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun 62 74% 3 tackles, 1 assist (4 combined).
CB T.J. Carrie 1 1% No stats registered.
  • Rookie Denzel Ward passed the test with his debut, showing great instincts coming away with two interceptions. I know he gave up the touchdown to Antonio Brown, but that was very good coverage, and he had his hand right in Brown’s catch area. PFF also highlighted another play of his: “He also showed his all-around skill by drawing a flag on a screen while disrupting the rhythm of the play.”
  • Terrance Mitchell also had a couple of nice plays, including one where he contested and broke up a pass for Brown despite having his back to the quarterback.
  • Just from my initial viewing, the player who kept getting beat unfortunately was Briean Boddy-Calhoun, being a bit flat-footed at the line, leading to big plays. T.J. Carrie only saw one snap. It’ll be interesting to see if E.J. Gaines cracks the stat sheet once he is healthy.

Safety

Pos Player Plays % Stats
Pos Player Plays % Stats
S Damarious Randall 83 99% 3 tackles, 1 assist (4 combined). 1 interception, 2 passes defended.
S Derrick Kindred 62 74% 1 tackle, 2 assists (3 combined).
S Jabrill Peppers 35 42% 3 tackles, 3 assists (6 combined). 1 fumble recovery.
  • The safeties were opportunistic for Cleveland, with Damarious Randall showing his ball skills on a deep interception, and Jabrill Peppers scooping up a fumble and nearly taking it the distance. Randall’s one missed snap came when he cramped up.
  • It was Derrick Kindred who ended up playing more snaps (74%) than Peppers (42%). Expect those numbers to vary between the two most of the season, as both will be used heavily.