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Cleveland Browns hire Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator: 5 observations

What does the hiring of Jim Schwartz mean for the Cleveland Browns? Let's take a look.

CLEVELAND — According to multiple reports, the Cleveland Browns have hired Tennessee Titans senior defensive assistant Jim Schwartz as their new defensive coordinator.

What follows are five observations about what Cleveland's new defensive coordinator hire means for the Browns:

More for Myles

Through his first six seasons in the NFL, Myles Garrett has already established himself as one of the best defensive ends in the league. And with Schwartz coming to Cleveland, the two-time All-Pro's best days may still be ahead.

As detailed by Ryan Sasaki for The Athletic in 2018 when Schwartz was the defensive coordinator for the Super Bowl defending champion Philadelphia Eagles, the Baltimore native employs a Wide-9 scheme aimed at creating favorable matchups for his defensive linemen. A staple of Schwarz's scheme is the use of an athletic pass-rusher -- such as Garrett -- lined up wide in a 9-technique outside the tight end, allowing him to wreak havoc against opposing offenses.

Additionally, Schwartz hasn't been shy to move his best defensive linemen around, as evidenced by the Eagles' Super Bowl-clinching play in which defensive end Brandon Graham lined up inside and forced a fumble while sacking New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Over the course of his career as a defensive coordinator and head coach, Schwartz has coached the likes of Jadeveon Kearse, Kevin Carter, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril, Mario Williams, Connor Barwin and Graham. It would hardly be a stretch, however, to say that Garrett is already the most talented pass-rusher to have played in Schwartz's scheme.

In the middle of it all

While the defensive ends might usually be the ones who end up with the big sack totals, they aren't the only ones to benefit from Schwartz's scheme. As Sasaki writes: "The key to the Eagles’ productive pass rush is not just about athletic defensive ends screaming off the end. Rather, the Wide Nine is often used to stretch out blocking assignments to create favorable matchups inside."

That has been evident in the All-Pro seasons that Albert Haynesworth had with the Titans, Ndamukong Suh had with the Detroit Lions and Fletcher Cox had with the Eagles under Schwartz's tutelage. But while Garrett might already make for a perfect fit for the Browns' new scheme, they're also clearly going to need to upgrade their defensive tackle room if Schwartz is going to replicate the success he's had elsewhere in Cleveland.

More coverage

As for the backend of the Browns defense, Schwartz has traditionally utilized man coverage with a single-high safety. While Cleveland typically played zone defense under its previous defensive coordinator, Joe Woods, cornerbacks Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome II and Martin Emerson Jr. each possess skill sets that should fit seamlessly into Schwartz's scheme.

As for safety, change is likely on its way -- and might have been anyways considering John Johnson III's contract status. Should the Browns part ways with Johnson and keep Grant Delpit, who was inconsistent but also showed flashes in 2022, look for Cleveland to prioritize acquiring a safety more capable of handling his own in coverage.

Numbers guy?

While Schwartz's extensive resume, which includes 30 years of working in the NFL, might make him a "football guy" to some, the reality is that the 56-year-old has also shown a willingness to embrace analytics. As noted by Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz, Schwartz was the first NFL coach to reach out to his analytics-focused website when it first began 20 years ago.

David Boclair of All Titans also noted that Schwartz has been embracing numbers since his run as Tennessee's defensive coordinator from 2001-2008. Schwartz's willingness to adapt based on data likely made him an attractive candidate to Cleveland, which has been voted as the most analytically advanced team in each of the last two years.

Cleveland connection

This won't be Schwartz's first rodeo in Cleveland. In fact, the former Georgetown linebacker's NFL career began as a personnel scout with the Browns in 1993 when Bill Belichick was the team's head coach.

Speaking to reporters prior to the Eagles' Super Bowl matchup with Belichick's Patriots in 2018, Schwartz recalled his time in Cleveland.

"We were on the right track in Cleveland," Schwartz said. "Bill Belichick was on the right track -- I mean, he's proven that. But we didn't have short-term success and when the team ended up moving [to Baltimore], we made a change. But the things that we were doing and the things that have propelled him to so many Super Bowl victories and known as probably the greatest coach in the history of the NFL, he was doing all of those things in Cleveland."


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