Cleveland Browns: Road map to a division crown

The Cleveland Browns have made a lot of changes but will it be enough to take them to a division crown?
Cleveland Browns Offseason Workout
Cleveland Browns Offseason Workout / Nick Cammett/GettyImages
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The Defense Must be on the same Page

Last season was a debacle for former defensive coordinator Joe Woods and the entire Browns defense. Communication issues were discussed in the media all season, no pass rush outside Garrett, and awful run defense.

If you could think up something going wrong, it likely did in 2022. When that happens, changes take place. Woods was out of a job after an up-and-down tenure with Cleveland. Enter veteran defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and the wide-nine defense.

Schwartz brings a wealth of experience as a defensive coordinator. While he has embraced analytics in his career, he's also a no-nonsense coach with a track record to back it up. In the past, it seemed as though some players may not have respected the man in charge. They will respect Schwartz, and they will communicate, or they can find a new team to play for. 

Schwartz spent a lot of time in the middle of the defense, during seven-on-seven drills, making sure the communication was clear for all of his players. He has talked extensively about making it simple with phrases like "see the quarterback, get the quarterback." He wants all his defenders to play fast and attack the ball every down.

The soundbites are great. The videos of Schwartz on the field making sure communication is there is what we want to see. It all comes down to results. If the Browns are to take this division and get back to the playoffs, then the biggest hurdle is the improvement of this defense from 19th in the league in points scored against.

Of the four teams in the AFC/NFC championship game, only the Kansas City Chiefs had a defense ranked lower than seventh in the NFL in points allowed. They also sport the best quarterback and a hall-of-fame coach. This defense must finish at or near the top if the Browns want to win the division and be a serious threat to go to the first Super Bowl in team history.