Cleveland Browns linebacker Joe Schobert has been a key member of the defense, and he has proven to be one of the best inside linebackers in the league.
Cleveland Browns linebacker Joe Schobert has only been the starting inside linebacker for the past two seasons. In those two seasons, the 25-year-old has quickly shown that he is one of the most talented, and most underrated, players at the position.
In 2017, his first season playing inside linebacker, Schobert tied for the lead league with 142 total tackles. The Browns had the seventh-best rush defense in 2017 and Schobert’s presence in the middle of the field was vital in slowing down an opposing rushing attack.
Schobert did not have the same tackling season in 2018, finishing the season with only 103 total tackles. However, he remained at the top of the league in multiple categories, according to Pro Football Focus. Schobert was one of the best linebackers in coverage last season.
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Pro Football Focus graded Schobert as the best linebacker in snaps per reception, snaps per target, and yards per coverage snap. Although the Browns struggled mightily covering tight ends, Schobert was not to blame for that.
In Gregg Williams’ defense, Schobert was often being dropped into coverage in the intermediate part of the field. His athleticism and instincts made it hard for quarterbacks to take advantage of having a linebacker in that part of the field.
However, Williams having Schobert drop into that coverage so often could have been partially to blame for the linebacker hurting his hamstring in the Browns Week 6 loss to the Chargers. Schobert was dropping roughly 10 yards into coverage and went to make a play on a pass. As he broke to make the play, Schobert pulled his hamstring.
The injury forced Schobert to miss the Browns next three games. It was obvious that Schobert was not on the field as the Cleveland defense struggled to slow down offensive attacks. In the three games that Schobert missed, the Browns defense allowed an average of 32 points per game.
Schobert was able to return for the final seven games of the season, coincidentally when the Browns went on their late season run with Williams at the helm. In the final seven games with Schobert back on the field, Cleveland allowed an average of only 20.7 points per game.
The linebacker finished the season with 103 total tackles, three tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, one interception, and six passes defended.
It is obvious that Schobert is a key cog in the Browns defense. Without him on the field, the defense is an entirely different unit. And even if he is not making the same impact he had in the run game, he remains at the top of the game in coverage.
Schobert is entering the final year of his rookie deal in 2019 and is eligible for a contract extension. For general manager John Dorsey, signing Schobert to a contract extension this off-season should be at the top of his priority list. It’s not often that teams can find linebackers that do what Schobert can, and 2018 proved just how valuable he is to the success of the defense.