There was a lot said on Wednesday when Jim Schwartz was introduced as the new defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns.
But one statement stood out above all else — and will be of the utmost importance.
While speaking on his philosophies, the veteran coach said that it’s important to hold every player to the same level of accountability. He added that this means in the end, the star players will “be the most accountable” as they set the tone.
"“I will say this, if I am doing a good job, we will hold our best players the most accountable. If you start from that position, then everything else is gravy. If you do not hold your best players most accountable, then you can have some bad vibes and different things can go on because they know like, ‘Hey, you are coaching that guy and you said that to him because he is an undrafted free agent as opposed to a first-round draft pick, a high-priced free agent or a veteran player.’ If I am doing a good job here, we will coach the undrafted free agent the same way we do the veteran player who has been to multiple Pro Bowls” — Schwartz on player accountability"
Throughout the past two seasons where the Browns have struggled, accountability has been a hot topic. There were those who accused Kevin Stefanski of never holding anyone accountable.
This is a laughable statement considering he released Odell Beckham, Jr. and sat Myles Garrett for a series when he didn’t properly report he would miss practice. But even with that happening, there was some anger due to undisciplined play on the field — but mostly it was the losses that got people mad.
Going forward, Schwartz says that holding everyone to the same standard will result in more falling on the shoulders of the best players.
Accountability should lead to improvement for the Browns
When Myles Garrett was punished late in the season, it sent fans into a flurry of emotions. Some felt it showed that no player is above reproach. Others inexplicably felt Kevin Stefanski was in the wrong for disciplining his best player.
Garrett, however, said he respected the decision. He also seemed to have a little more respect for the staff as he went from criticizing them earlier in the year to defending them as the season ended.
As for the idea of not punishing the top player simply because of his skill, that’s a recipe for disaster. This happened back when Dez Bryant was with the Dallas Cowboys and never got punished for being late to meetings while others were expected to be on time. Team owner Jerry Jones even joked that he could deal with tardiness due to his talent.
This approach will cause toxicity in a locker room and Schwartz understands this. Considering how we saw fingers being pointed early in 2022 as players were acting as individuals rather than a team, this is the perfect approach.