Cleveland Browns assignment for Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah: Spy Lamar Jackson

The Cleveland Browns need a special player to “spy” Lamar Jackson of Baltimore, and that might be hybrid linebacker/safety Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.

The Cleveland Browns have a tough assignment for rookie Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah: be the “spybacker” for the greatest two-way threat in NFL history.

Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens has the NFL record for most rushing records by a quarterback with 1206, set in 2019.

JOK is the perfect candidate for the job because of his speed and agility, which probably exceeds anyone else’s on the current roster. This was pointed out in the fan discussion comments on another article:

[Numbers] cannot tell you how effective Owusu-Koramoah will be shadowing Jackson. I believe this is the biggest reason he was drafted, the Browns wanted and needed someone to help cancel the Baltimore quarterback. If Owusu-Koramoah can do that it means he will as well be quite effective throughout the rest of the schedule and the Browns defense will roll.   — Deer Hunter Dave, May 30, 2021, Dawg Pound Daily fan comments on ‘Have the Cleveland Browns Reached Parity with the Baltimore Ravens?’

Dave speaks the truth.

In the past, the Browns used to use Joe Schobert the shadow Jackson, and that, unfortunately, did not work too well. Joe was as savvy as they come, but Joe’s Combine 40-yard dash time was 4.76, and Jackson (who refused to run the 40-yard dash for fear that he was so fast that some NFL team would want to convert him into a wide receiver) is estimated to be a 4.4 guy and changes directions on a dime.

Jackson could do whatever he wanted, and he did. It was a bit like World War II when the Allies were flying propeller planes and the bad guys were flying Messerschmidt jets. Not a healthy situation.

Owusu-Koramoah may be a great fit for the spybacker role for the Browns. He, of course, is the hybrid linebacker/safety from Notre Dame who won the Butkus Award and was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and was unanimous All-American as a senior in 2020.

The Browns list him at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds. He impressed in agility drills and posted 36.5 inches in the vertical jump, and broad jumped 10-feet four inches. He posted 4.15 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle and 6.81 seconds in the 3-cone drill. He did not run the 40-yard dash due to a hamstring tweak.

However, if you compare his 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone times with Sione Takitaki’s, and scale the 40-yard dash time proportionately, Owusu-Koramoah probably runs about a 4.48 40-yard dash, give or take a tick.  That is fast enough to threaten Jackson.

The spybacker’s job, in a nutshell, is to follow the quarterback wherever he goes until such time as the ball leaves his hand, either serving as an extra pass rusher or run containment specialist.

Wherever the quarterback goes, the spy follows. The spy doesn’t have to be a linebacker, and in fact, it is often a defensive back that assumes that role. It also does not have to be the same player all game long. It’s not typically used for just any quarterback, but someone like Russell Wilson or Cam Newton whose mobility makes him extra dangerous. That might make the defensive coordinator want to use a spy.

By the way, this has been a great series ever since Baker Mayfield and Jackson hit the league together in 2018. The Ravens have been a dominant NFL power since Jackson became the starting quarterback in place of Joe Flacco, who had gotten them Super Bowl rings in SB47.

Jackson is two years younger than Mayfield, so you can ignore all the stuff that Jackson has never done this or never done that in his young career. He’s still in the early stages of his career. Jackson was the first quarterback to ever be more than one game over .500 as a 21-year-old NFL starting quarterback (David Woodley went 6-5 for the 1980 Miami Dolphins as the next best to Jackson’s 7-1 tally). 2019 should have been Jackson’s rookie year, and Tennessee cleaned their clock in the playoffs. Tsk, tsk.

So Jackson only has one playoff win by age 23 and the press wants to give up on him? Great. If he hasn’t won anything by age 30 we might start to wonder.

Colin Cowherd loves to bash Mayfield for being inept against superior competition such as Baltimore. Let’s check out how he has done in his career. Mayfield’s passing yard totals versus Baltimore:

2018: 342 yards, 376 yards

2019: 342 yards, 192 yards

2020: 189 yards, 343 yards

The 2020 season started out with a clunker as the Browns tried to install a new coaching staff and new offense with a Covid-curtailed summer camp and without exhibition games. The result was a 38-6 massacre with Jackson throwing for 275 yards and three touchdown passes and adding 75 yards on the ground. The second game was much different, as they squeaked by 45-40, with Jackson rushing for 124 yards and two TDs on the ground.

He passed for only 163 yards through the air with one touchdown and zero interceptions. Did anybody get the idea that Mayfield and the Browns cannot score against Baltimore? That’s not what the numbers say.

Fans, the simple truth is that these two quarterbacks are at their best when they play against each other. Cleveland against Baltimore is the most exciting matchup in the NFL right now.

Cowherd can go watch his Jets play the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tim Tebow on December 26. The rest of the NFL is going to watch Mayfield’s Browns against Jackson’s Ravens when they play back-to-back on December 12th and 19th.

Mr. Jackson, meet Mr. Owusu-Koramoah. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.