Not to kick a dead horse but sometimes it is vital to look back to look forward.
For the Cleveland Browns, it really doesn’t seem like it can get worse on the defensive side of the ball. Joe Woods is out and Jim Schwartz is in as the team’s defensive coordinator. Interestingly, that may be enough to make the defense at least decent.
Of the final eight teams left in the NFL playoffs, only the Kansas City Chiefs (17th), the Jacksonville Jaguars (26th) and the New York Giants (29th) were worse than 11th in DVOA on the defensive side of the ball. The Jags and Giants were eliminated from the playoffs on Saturday. The Chiefs have a top-notch coach in Andy Reid and a dynamic offense to buoy a mediocre defense.
While the focus this offseason will be on the Browns addressing their huge need at defensive tackle to help in the run game, the team was literally the worst in coverage according to this graph going into the final week of the seaosn:
How often teams face perfectly covered plays on offense, and how often they create perfectly covered plays on defense. Do the 49ers have the best playcalling coaching combo in the NFL? Probably. Should Ben Johnson and Lou Anarumo be HCs soon? Also probably. pic.twitter.com/heSGnuP1N0— Arjun Menon (@arjunmenon100) January 5, 2023
Cleveland’s defenders were in “perfect” coverage almost half as often as the Cincinnati Bengals and 10% less than Schwartz’s former team, the Tennessee Titans.
On the other axis, Kevin Stefanski’s offense was just above average in creating space for his offensive players despite facing three of the top six teams in coverage.
While the need against the run seems to mostly be talent and discipline, the need for the Browns defense in coverage seemed most often to be scheme and communication. If nothing else, Schwartz is known for a solid scheme and clear communication. That alone should lift Cleveland’s defense back up to the middle of the pack quickly.