Football is a team sport in such a way that is often difficult to quantify. A great offensive line and scheme can make a good running back look great. A great defensive line can make a good defensive back group stand out. A great receiver or quarterback can help elevate the other.
For the Cleveland Browns, the defense needed a lot of changes from 2022 to 2023. Hiring Jim Schwartz to replace Joe Woods was a part of the story, maybe the most important part, but the additions on the defensive line were huge.
Behind the line was the same linebacker corps as the last couple of years with Anthony Walker Jr., Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Sione Takitaki. In fact, in Week 2 they were the only three linebackers to see the field on defense.
Cleveland’s linebackers benefit a ton from the new scheme and the improved players in front of them. Instead of getting met by offensive linemen with free runs at them, the Browns ‘backers are free to make plays as the line handles the opposing lines.
How much better are the same linebackers this year? This one stat tells the tale:
The average depth of tackle in the run game for Browns LBs this season is...the line of scrimmage.— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) September 20, 2023
Best in the NFL by over 2 yards.
Jim Schwartz has that D flying to the ball!
Both pieces of information stand out as amazing. First, any tackle by the Cleveland linebacker averages for no gain. The second is that no other team is even close to that mark.
Last year, offensive linemen were often meeting linebackers two yards down the field. This year, under Schwartz, offenses are barely making progress when the ‘backers are involved.
Just an amazing turnaround thanks to Schwartz and the upgraded defensive line.
Are you surprised at how much Schwartz and the help in front of them has helped the linebackers this year?