Defensive Report Card:
Coming off a season where the Cleveland defense was ranked in the top half of the league, there was an expectation they would take a jump into the top 10. That was not the case. They took huge steps backwards for a couple of reasons that we will discuss in this report card.
Offensive Report Card:
The offensive report is linked here, if you want to see the grades on that side of the ball. The final grade for the offense was a B-.
The Cleveland Browns had one bright spot on the D-Line this year. That was Pro-Bowler DE Myles Garrett. Garrett recorded 16 sacks this season and recorded 33 tackles. Garrett has been the center piece of the Cleveland defense since he was drafted in 2017. Outside of Garret on the D-Line, well it was underwhelming.
Jadeveon Clowney signed his second straight one-year contract with Cleveland to give them another elite pass rusher to compliment Garrett. In 2021 the plan worked for the most part, but in 2022, Clowney recorded two sacks. Clowney was benched for their week 18 match-up against Pittsburgh, due to conflict with the organization.
Running a 4-man front like Cleveland has done the last couple years, the interior lineman’s main job is to help stop the run. That was not the case this year, as the defense ranked 25th in rushing defense along with 25th in yards per carry. Taven Bryan was the main guy in the interior with three sacks, and 11 tackles. Those three sacks were second on the team. The interior lineman was a who-who rotation for the season, but there was no pressure or help stopping the run from the interior.
Outside of Garrett’s 16 sacks, the Browns recorded a total of 18 sacks which is a total of 34. That was tied for 28th in league with Green Bay.
Overall Grade: D
Cleveland’s linebackers were also a who-who with rotations, mostly due to injuries. The biggest injury to hit the Browns’ linebackers was Anthony Walker Jr. Through three games Walker had 7 tackles. Walker has been very consistent and the leader of the defense since 2021.
Outside of Walker, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has been another somewhat consistent player in the linebacking core, when he is on the field. JOK was fourth on the team in tackles 45, but he did not record any sacks. He also recorded 7 tackles for loss which was second on the team behind Garrett.
JOK was the best linebacker statistically for Cleveland while only playing 11 games this season. Another linebacker that missed a lot of time, and was solid statically, was Sione Takitaki, who recorded 36 tackles, and was able to get a sack. That is where the good ends, because Jacob Phillips missed all but seven games, while Tony Fields II played every game and only recorded 29 tackles. That can contribute to him only starting six games but still underwhelming considering how injury prone the linebackers were this year.
The linebackers had some bright spots, but with injuries hitting the unit like a truck caused some holes that could not be filled.
Overall Grade: C-
Contract extensions can be risky because the player’s production could go down. Denzel Ward’s production definitely went down this year after signing a 5-year, $100.5 million contract. He did have three interceptions, but his coverage was not very good this year. After proving he can be a lockdown corner, this year did not show it.
Outside of Ward, Greg Newsome II, and Greedy Williams were also underwhelming with their performances. Neither recorded and interception, and had problems themselves staying on the field. There was bright spot in the cornerback room though.
Rookie Martin Emerson, proved that he can be a lockdown corner in the league. His stats may not look eye-popping, but just like Ward, his play on the field does not reflect the stats. Emerson was the only bright spot in the cornerback room this year.
Overall, the three big names at corner were more disappointing, while there is a bright rookie that proved his worth.
Overall Grade: C-
Both starting safeties led the team in tackles this year, with John Johnson III recording 70, and Grant Delpit recording 72. Johnson may have recorded 70 tackles, but watching the film, there was very minimal effort towards the end of the season.
Outside of Garrett, and Emerson, Delpit was another bright spot as he led the team in tackles , and also interceptions with four on the year.
Cleveland’s secondary as whole was a mess with many busted coverages, and a lot of disappointments with the big names.
Overall Grade: C-
Defensive Overall Report Card:
The overall grade Cleveland’s defense is a D.
Drafting a kicker is risky, and Cleveland seems to have trouble finding kickers, but Cade York proved he was the draft pick. York went 35/37 on extra points (94%), while going 24/32 on field goals (75%). I know 75% FG is not something to be excited about, but having stability at kicker is something Cleveland hasn’t had in a long time and York is that guy. Corey Bojorquez led the punting duties this season. Bojorquez was 29th in the league in total net yards, but had 11 punts downed which was tied for 6th in the NFL.
Overall Grade: B-
We will start off with the bad, Joe Woods, who was the defensive coordinator, was fired at the end of the season. Under Joe Woods, the Cleveland defense never ranked in the top half of the league. With all the talent on that team, and the poor scheme and motivation, it was only a matter of time before Woods got fired.
Kevin Stefanski just finished his third season as the Browns head coach and has a record of 26-24. Stefanski ranked ninth with in-game management this season. That simply means, the management side of Stefanski helped Cleveland more than hurt them, but the play-calling side of Stefanski was very questionable throughout the season. I will more in depth on this in another article.
Overall Grade: C
If you want to see other report cards, click here!
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