Three reasons to be excited about the Cleveland Browns in 2019
No. 3: The new-look defensive line
Last season, the Browns struggled on defense, especially down the stretch. They kicked the year off with some strong performances against the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints but were unable to keep up that intensity.
Arguably their most embarrassing performance came in Week 17 when they were run all over by the Baltimore Ravens who had nearly 300 yards on the ground in a two-point victory. Understanding that there was a need for more talent both on the starting lineup and in terms of depth, John Dorsey got to work alleviating the issue this offseason.
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The two biggest moves came on the defensive line as they traded for Olivier Vernon and signed Sheldon Richardson. Vernon wasn’t what the New York Giants thought he would be when they gave him a massive contract a few seasons ago, but he still played well and made the Pro Bowl last season. He should be even better for the Browns, who are looking to him as the secondary pass rusher alongside Myles Garrett.
As for Richardson, he’s a big cog in the middle of the defense that can stop the run while also bringing the occasional heat as an interior pass rusher. Lining him up next to Larry Ogunjobi is going to give Cleveland a vastly improved defensive line.
Couple the new talent with a change at defensive coordinator and suddenly there’s a lot of room for excitement. Steve Wilks didn’t pan out as the Arizona Cardinals head coach, but he’s a respected play caller on the defensive side of the ball and had success with the Carolina Panthers in the past.