The Cleveland Browns defense has been a mess basically all of the 2022 NFL season. While it has made stops at times and shown some flashes of quality play, it has given up big play after big play as well as allowing teams to just run the ball right down their throat.
With the NFL trade deadline just over a week away, the Browns may not be very active in adding players and could look to sell if they lose their next two games.
The team did make a trade already during this season bringing in LB Deion Jones from the Atlanta Falcons. Jones remains on the injured reserve list but has been designated to return. based on comments from HC Kevin Stefanski, it looks like that will happen sometime on Saturday so he can play on Sunday.
DC Joe Woods is “hopeful” that Jones can play but it seems like the team is putting a lot of stock in Jones changing things for the defense. According to linebackers coach Jason Tarver, Jones will take over as the team’s defensive play caller from Jacob Phillips when he takes the field:
#Browns LB coach Jason Tarver expects Deion Jones to wear green sticker (be signal caller) in near future.— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) October 21, 2022
Three years ago, Pro Football Focus noted that Jones was the key to Atlanta’s defensive success, especially in coverage:
You do not have to look far to find the area in which Jones excels. His coverage ability, more specifically his ability to break on throws and make plays in the open field, is arguably second to none. Jones produced 22 coverage stops in 2017, the third-highest total of any linebacker in the NFL, and he led the league with nine combined pass breakups and interceptions. These PFF metrics resulted in Jones leading the league in 2017 with a 91.1 coverage grade.
While age, snap counts and injuries can pile up, the Browns are hoping for that kind of player to help in coverage as well as a run defender especially when taking on double teams:
When Jones sees the double team, he attacks Johnson’s outside shoulder while keeping his left arm free so he can control his C-gap responsibility.
Cleveland is hoping for a lot from Jones, as noted by giving him play-calling duties on a defense he just joined. It is a lot to expect from any player especially one that only cost the team a swap of picks very late in the 2024 NFL draft.
The Browns needed someone to replace LB Anthony Walker Jr., who just returned to the team after surgery, in the middle of the defense. Can Jones put on his cape and be the hero that the team needs?