Jim Schwartz: Browns defense played 'out of character' in Wild Card loss

Jim Schwartz admits the Cleveland Browns defense was "chasing plays" in playoff loss
Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz
Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Schwartz was hired by the Cleveland Browns in 2023 with the hopes he would turn their defense around. The former Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator did exactly that, leading Cleveland to the No. 1 defense in terms of yards surrendered.

The Browns, who finished 14th in 2022 under Joe Woods, gave up just 4,593 yards on the season. That led to Schwartz being named the NFL Assistant Coach of the Year. The honor was well-deserved but the last game Schwartz coached was one to forget.

Cleveland lost 42-14 to the Houston Texans in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. While 14 points were scored due to interceptions returned for touchdowns, the defense still struggled. C.J. Stroud threw for 274 yards with three touchdowns and Devin Singletary put up 66 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries.

According to Schwartz, much of the damage was self-inflicted. Speaking with reporters for the first time in several months, Schwartz said he and his defense were "pressing" in an attempt to make a big play. He never took anything away from the Texans but admits his unit played "out of character."

"We put a big emphasis on making plays and being aggressive. And my biggest takeaway from that was we chased plays in that game, right? Instead of letting the plays come to us and making the plays that were there," Schwartz said, via Coral Smith of NFL.com. "And I thought for the most part of last year, we did a really good job of that, and in that game, we missed an interception fairly early in the game and it just seemed like we were pressing and guys played a little bit out of character instead of just doing their job with physical toughness and effort and some personality, all of a sudden we played a little bit out of character."

Schwartz returns for his second season as the defensive play-caller and has the majority of his starters back as well. He also has a familiar face to work with since the Browns signed Jordan Hicks, who was on his 2017 championship team in Philadelphia.

Cleveland has a tough schedule this year but their defense gives them confidence they can hang with anyone — as long as they learn from their loss to Houston.

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