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Denzel Ward provides intel into new Browns defense under Jim Schwartz

Miscommunication was prevalent under Joe Woods in Cleveland

Cleveland Browns Offseason Workout Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

The days of bad Joe Woods’ defense are in the past for the Cleveland Browns. The question is whether or not Jim Schwartz’s defense will be enough improvement to help the team make it to the next level.

Under Woods, miscommunication in the secondary and a failure to stop the run up front provided a two-prong failure in many games. GM Andrew Berry added FS Juan Thornhill to help with the backend and a wide variety of new additions on the defensive line should take care of the needs up front.

Ultimately, talent is only one part of the equation, coaching is the other.

Schwartz has had a long history of success at the NFL level with his wide-9 system for the defensive line. The reliance on the five rushers getting to the passer can help him be creative in coverage.

As we saw with the offense, we are starting to get some ideas about what will be new on defense this season.

According to CB Denzel Ward, the secondary won’t have the same chance for miscommunication this year:

There are positives and negatives to both types of systems. “Read-and-react” coverage allows for defenders to adjust to the offenses scheme as the play unfolds but it can lead to breakdowns like we have seen in Cleveland. The “we play what we play” coverage minimizes those miscommunications but doesn’t allow for flexibility to change based on what is happening in a play.

Given the experience the last couple of seasons, Browns fans will happily accept a safer brand of coverage.

Ward also noted that we are likely to see him playing in the slot more than in previous seasons. Much of that could be Schwartz looking to match up his cornerbacks with specific receivers. Long gone are times when receivers line up only on the left or right or only on the outside or inside.

One concern when Ward is inside is the physical toll that can have on a player as the slot corner has far more run-game responsibilities than those on the outside. In the slot, Ward is more likely to face offensive linemen and tight ends instead of receivers blocking him.

As OTAs give way to training camp, we should get more of an idea of how Schwartz’s defense will differ from Woods’. In the end, all that matters is the play on the field and the outcomes but it will be interesting to watch it come together throughout the offseason.