4. Za’Darius Smith notches his first sack of the year
One of the more exciting additions to the defense this year was Za’Darius Smith, a pass-rushing EDGE who spent 2023 with the Minnesota Vikings. Smith, who started his career with the Baltimore Ravens, came in with at least 10 sacks in three of the past four seasons which had everyone stoked about what he could do opposite Myles Garrett.
After five games, Smith has recorded just six tackles and has not registered his first sack in Cleveland. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been effective though — because he has. Smith is currently eighth in the NFL in pass-rush win rate and 14th in pass-rush grade. Recently defensive line coach Ben Bloom discussed how important Smith has been to their defense.
Oftentimes, we worry too much about the numbers — which is also an issue when it comes to cornerbacks and interceptions. But the impact a player makes goes well beyond the statistics.
Having said that, they do still want to get those stats and Smith is going to be celebrating his first in Cleveland in a big way. This bold prediction is that we’ll see that celebration this Sunday when he takes down Gardner Minshew for his first sack in the orange and brown.