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Jim Schwartz must overcome Browns being third worst defense in “yards before contact”

A lot of new faces on the defensive line and the new DC should help but the data is shockingly bad

Syndication: Florida Times-Union Bob Self/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK

Sometimes what you see on the screen and what the boxscore says look completely different. It can be shocking, at times, to feel like RB Nick Chubb didn’t get the ball much but see 18-22 carries at the end of the game.

Last year’s Cleveland Browns defense was just as bad in the stat book as it looked like it was on the field.

Under then-DC Joe Woods, Cleveland’s defense could barely stop anyone. The front seven had huge holes and the secondary often had blown coverage. Teams that were bad at running the football all year found success against the Browns.

This graphic shows you just how bad it was:

Only the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers were worse and getting contact early on running backs. On average, Cleveland’s opponents (outside of redzone plays) had over two yards headstart before a defender even touched them.

Not only that but the Browns were the seventh-worst team at bringing down a ball carrier when they did finally create contact.

New DC Jim Schwartz had a huge task ahead of him. Thankfully, GM Andrew Berry used both NFL free agency and the NFL draft to try to address the problem. Dalvin Tomlinson, Siaki Ika, Trysten Hill and Maurice Hurst were brought in as reinforcements on the interior of the defensive line.

Berry also added talented to the defensive end position.

If Schwartz can scheme things up for the newfound talent on the defensive line, the linebacker corps, which is mostly the same as last year, will be able to make plays closer to the line of scrimmage instead of being met by a blocker or their own defensive linemen’s backs down the field.

A lot of ugly in the chart above but a reminder of just how vast the improvement can be in 2023.