1. Jim Schwartz, Defensive Coordinator
As was the case with Joe Flacco, the Browns shouldn't be upset with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, even though he deserves blame for this loss. Schwartz took over a frustratingly bad defense which unperformed throughout the 2022 season and turned them into winners.
His unit finished first in the NFL in yardage which was a huge jump from their 14th place finish in 2022. They also ended up 10th in scoring (aided by some short fields due to turnovers) compared to 20th. On Saturday, however, they looked like the team Joe Woods coached last year.
Cleveland gave up a 15-yard toucdown to Nico Collins on a four-play, 75-yard drive. They also allowed Brevin Jordan to go 76 yards for a score and no one covered Dalton Schultz when he went in from 36 yards out. It could have been even worse as Nico Collins had a 59-yard touchdown but was overthrown.
Schwartz was the most experienced coach out there on Saturday but he had no answers for the game plan rookie offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik dialed up. They also couldn't stop C.J. Stroud as the rookie quarterback was 16-of-21 for 274 yards with three touchdowns.
To be fair, Schwartz didn't have Grant Delpit or starting middle linebacker Anthony Walker, but it's hard to think that would have made much of a difference on Saturday since the Browns struggled on the road all year to play well on defense. Heading into the offseason, that's where Schwartz needs to focus his energy since winning on the road is a necessity in the playoffs.