3. The defense needs to get more sacks
Defensive end Myles Garrett broke out in his second season in the league, recording 13.5 sacks for the Browns. His ability to get after the quarterback showed why he was taken first overall out of Texas A&M the year prior. Unfortunately, he was on his own quite often when it came to generating quarterback sacks.
On the season, Cleveland finished with just 37 total, which landed them at 22nd in the NFL. Whenever you have a premier pass rusher, this isn’t an ideal place to finish. They seem to understand this, which is why general manager John Dorsey traded away a very good starting guard in Kevin Zeitler in order to land Olivier Vernon from the New York Giants.
Vernon is coming off his first Pro Bowl following a campaign where he had 30 tackles and seven sacks in just 11 games played. Even with the missed time, that number would have had him second in sacks last season as Cleveland didn’t get the production outside of Garrett they were hoping for. This isn’t to say no one can get after the quarterback as Larry Ogunjobi had 5.5 sacks and Genard Avery had 4.5, but getting another player who excels in this role will surely help.
Vernon isn’t the only new addition expected to generate pressure either. Their prized free agent pick-up this offseason was defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. The former first-round pick is coming off a strong campaign with the Minnesota Vikings and gives the Browns four strong starters on the defensive line.