CLEVELAND -- Linebacker Joe Schobert had a limited amount of productivity on defensive snaps and much of his playing time came on special teams for the Cleveland Browns during the 2016 season.
However, a change in schemes with the addition of Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator, a trimmed-down Schobert finds himself in the mix to start at middle linebacker when the 2017 season gets underway.
“The middle, being the MIKE backer, setting the defense, making the calls, I can know all of the adjustments and all of the calls to make to just kind of get the whole defense set up, which is a lot different than last year being an outside backer,” Schobert said.
“Being in the middle, I am not on the edge of the line of scrimmage taking on tackles and tight ends every play. I am in the middle kind of reading. My fits and stuff might be different on the end of the line of scrimmage if it is one or two gaps every time now depending on the calls. It depends. I just have to know my stuff, and then, being a lot more pushed off the ball, run into the ball a lot more in terms of scraping over the top and trying to make plays.”
During the offseason, Schobert committed to getting himself in better shape in order to be a more impactful player.
“Just position change, getting off the ball, not being an outside linebacker, and then, just kind of fitting in the body that I feel most comfortable in, so I just worked out and got into my best shape possible, and I happened to be losing a little bit of weight,” Schobert said.
“I just ate healthier than I did in college and stuff. Definitely ate healthy, did a good job of making sure I knew what I was putting in my body all of the time, so that definitely helped.”
Schobert registered 28 total tackles, including 19 solo stops, nine assists and half a sack in 2016, but feels ready to have a breakout season in a retooled Browns defense under Williams’ guidance.
“Oh yeah, I feel a lot better moving around,” Schobert said. “Fifteen less pounds is a lot less stress on your joints, being able to open up and run better and cover some space. I am lighter than what I was in college. I was like 235-240 in college, so I am lighter than that.
“I definitely feel more comfortable. I felt comfortable last year, but just the scheme, the attitude that the coaches bring I think has fit in not with just me, but the whole defense and the whole team competing against the offense every day has been getting everybody amped up. I think in general, the whole defense feels better and more comfortable.”