Cleveland Browns: Gregg Williams can truly play his defense in 2018

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

After not having the right personnel on his defense in 2017, Williams was forced to change his defensive scheme. But after the Browns revamped their secondary this offseason, he will be able to call his old defense in 2018.

Cleveland Browns will no longer have to suffer watching the Browns defense play a safety 25 yards off the line of scrimmage.

During the Sashi Brown era, one of the positions that suffered a loss of talent was the secondary. Heading into the 2017 season, the Browns no longer had Joe Haden, Tramon Williams, and Jordan Poyer. They opted to play young and inexperienced players, not including Jamar Taylor and Jason McCourty.

With players that did not have much playing time in the NFL, it forced Williams to play a different defense than he was used to. Williams told 92.3 The Fan’s Daryl Ruiter what he was doing different in 2017:

The “you can figure out the reasons for that” was likely a shot at the past regime filling a roster with cheap players.

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Williams mostly played zone coverage in 2017, with his cornerbacks usually playing 7-10 yards off the ball. This let offenses consistently attack the Browns defense with short throws that would pick up chunks of yardage at a time.

Not only could the Browns not stop these throws, but it also let the offense dominate possession of the ball, which wore out the Browns defense. And with an inefficient Browns offense in 2017, the exhausted defense would be quickly thrown back out on the field.

But in 2018, Williams will be able to call the defense that he prefers to play. Aggressive, press-man coverage with blitzing linebackers or safeties will be utilized often. The emphasis on getting Williams the talent he needed to run his defense was evident this offseason.

Denzel Ward was drafted top-five by Cleveland because he can press the receiver and he excels while in man coverage. He has quick-twitch abilities that lets him break on routes and make plays on the ball. He also has the speed to regain ground if he is beat on a route.

T.J. Carrie is coming off his best season in the NFL and has experience playing in the slot and on the outside. E.J. Gaines has played in Williams’ defense for three years, so he understands what Williams wants from his cornerbacks and how he needs to play in order to be successful in the scheme.

With the addition of Damarious Randall playing the ball hawking deep safety, it allows Jabrill Peppers to move to a position that he is more comfortable playing, and that is hybrid linebacker. Williams will be able to do creative things with Peppers, including using him as a blitzer. But Peppers can drop into coverage in the intermediate level or in man against tight ends.

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With a better secondary and putting players in positions where they are more comfortable, Williams can do more than just play zone. The talent difference on this year’s defense compared to last year’s defense should make Williams’ job easier, and it will help prevent long drives that killed the entire team last season.