The Cleveland Browns moved on from Joe Woods and hired Jim Schwartz to replace him as the team’s defensive coordinator this offseason. That move is likely the biggest one of all the moves made this offseason by the team.
Besides failing to stop the run and often having blown coverages, Woods was most known for wanting to have three safeties on the field as often as possible. In a vacuum, the idea makes a lot of sense in today’s modern NFL where throwing the ball with versatile weapons is all the rage.
Like most things, it didn’t work that well for Woods but it looks like Schwartz may dip into the three-safety look as well in 2023.
Free agent addition Juan Thornhill has already taken leadership of the group while fourth-year man Grant Delpit has a chance to have a breakout contract year. The key for Schwartz is the addition of Rodney McLeod late in free agency. McLeod has experience with Schwartz and is a natural leader:
“I call him Coach McLeod, by the way,” (position coach Ephraim) Banda said during minicamp in the spring. “I don’t even call him Rod or Rodney, it’s Coach McLeod. That’s how I refer to him, because that’s what he is in the room. His ability to just bring knowledge, not only for me but for the players in the room has been big. I sleep better to say the least. I sleep better knowing that he’s here because he is really another coach in that room.”
While his teammates call him “OG,” McLeod is adjusting to being an elder statesman on a team.
In the great profile by Dan Labbe of Cleveland.com, McLeod’s history (especially with Malcolm Jenkins) has prepared him for this moment. Labbe notes that there will be playing time for the veteran:
McLeod is the third safety here behind Juan Thornhill and Grant Delpit, but there will be playing time for him in Schwartz’s scheme thanks, in part, to his versatility.
It will be interesting to see how often and how successful Schwartz can be with a three-safety look after Woods’ general failure as the team’s coordinator. McLeod’s presence also gives the team some confidence in their depth should an injury knock out Thornhill or Delpit for any length of time.
Do you think 3 safeties on the field at the same time is a good plan for teams in 2023? Does the trio of Thornhill, Delpit and McLeod give you confidence in the Browns doing it?
Join the conversation below in our comment section to discuss: