Player No. 1 – Denzel Ward
After having a monster second half of the 2021 season for the Cleveland Browns which earned him a five-year, $100 million contract extension, 2022 was a disappointing one for Denzel Ward. Not only did he have some busted coverages, but he also struggled to take accountability for the mistakes to the media which was a tough look for someone who was supposed to be a leader in this unit.
One area where Wood’s scheme didn’t mesh well was with the Browns corners. Both Greg Newsome and Ward thrive in man coverage and struggle to make tackles. Woods was consistently in zone and asked his corners to squeeze plays inside on run support which was consistently botched by both.
There's no doubt that Ward was frustrated by his performance last year, and I expect a huge comeback in 2023. Not only will he be motivated, but the Schwartz system which will allow him to be in man-to-man coverage on most snaps will benefit him greatly.
Schwartz runs an old-school scheme where discipline is key. You won’t see a ton of fancy alignments or exotic blitzes, but he will expect his players to know where they should be and what their jobs are on every single play.
With Schwartz calling plays, Ward could end up having another pro-bowl season, flirting with all-pro status.