Kevin Stefanski excited about Browns new 'game wrecker' Za'Darius Smith
By Randy Gurzi
When the Cleveland Browns decided to move on from Jadeveon Clowney, they knew they needed another starter across from Myles Garrett. Even after signing an ascending pass rusher such as Ogbo Okoronkwo, they still felt as though they needed someone who was able to wreck a game plan not only when attacking the quarterback but also when defending the run.
That's why they pulled the trigger on a trade for Za'Darius Smith, who spent 2022 with the Minnesota Vikings. Smith, who is one of five players to record at least 10 sacks in three of the past four seasons (Myles Garrett is another of those), gets plenty of love for his ability to get after the signal-caller.
However, he's also a problem for opposing teams when it comes to running the ball. Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski said as much when he called Smith a "game wrecker" during OTAs.
"Yeah, we've all gone against him, really, on our offensive staff. Everybody's got stories about going against him. He's a game wrecker. He's really difficult to defend in the run and the pass."- Stefanski via Fred Greetham, OBR
As Stefanski said, the coaching staff all know how talented Smith is from having to face him. During his career, Smith has played for the Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers, and Vikings — and has had success at each stop.
Stefanski also knows how important it is for a defensive end to be able to set the edge in the run game, which was an underrated part of Clowney's game. Adding Smith should ensure they don't miss a beat there — while he offers more pop when it comes to rushing the passer.
There are those who question the move, including Albert Breer who suggested he could be Clowney 2.0. However, that feels like a stretch as the Browns simply added a player with incredible talent who is playing on a one-year deal — and could be motivated to prove he deserves one last pay day.