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'It's an honor': Jim Schwartz introduced as Cleveland Browns DC, recalls beginning his NFL career with organization

'I got my degree in football-ology, a Ph.D. in football-ology, from the Browns and from Bill Belichick,' Schwartz said of his time scouting for the club in the '90s.

BEREA, Ohio — Over the years, the Browns have sometimes been criticized for "winning the press conference" more often than they win football games.

That may be true, and at the end of the day, no one cares what you say into the microphone if you don't back it up with results on the field. Still, first impressions always help, and Jim Schwartz certainly made a good one on Wednesday.

The veteran NFL coach was officially introduced as Cleveland's new defensive coordinator at team headquarters in Berea, replacing Joe Woods after a rocky three-year tenure that ended with the latter's firing last week. Unlike his predecessor, Schwartz brings with him a bevy of experience at football's highest level, including as head coach of the Detroit Lions and DC in Philadelphia, whom he helped win a Super Bowl in 2017.

Most recently, the 56-year-old had been an advisor with the Tennessee Titans, taking a sort of semi-retirement due to health concerns. When asked why he decided to try being a coordinator again and do it for the Browns, he first cited his faith in owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam and their will to win.

"I appreciate hands-on ownership," Schwartz told reporters. "I appreciate owners that are willing to make the capital improvements to be successful. I see that here."

Schwartz also expressed admiration for head coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry, and says the pair combined with ownership "made it a really attractive job." In particular, Berry crossed paths with Schwartz in 2019 as Philly's vice president of football operations, and Schwartz says back then he saw the young executive as "a guy I'd like to work with," and "my idea of a GM."

"He's straight down the middle, and I have a lot of respect for that consistency," Schwartz said of Berry's demeanor. The pair are also both known for their use of analytics, with Schwartz utilizing such tools long before many others in the league did.

That career in the league actually began in Cleveland, where Schwartz worked as a scout (unpaid, at first) for legendary head coach Bill Belichick. Schwartz still has fond memories of those days, from the time he accidently took the last of the turkey for his sandwich ("Bill doesn't like that story") to the many opportunities to learn from some of football's brightest minds.

"I got my degree in football-ology, a Ph.D. in football-ology, from the Browns and from Bill Belichick," Schwartz noted. It was a great experience for a young coach, a young professional in the NFL."

And besides Schwartz and Belichick, that Browns staff in the mid-1990s was filled with future college and NFL head coaches, from Pat Hill to Kirk Ferentz to Eric Mangini. There was also a young defensive coordinator named Nick Saban, who left in 1995 to become the head coach at Michigan State. Schwartz helped him pack up, and later noticed his friend had left one of his analysis "Bibles" from the 1992 season.

"Basically all 16 games and his notes from the beginning of the week to the end of the week," Schwartz said of the book, compiled by a man who has since gone on to win seven national championships at the college level. "I can't tell you how much I referred to that in my first years, particularly my first years as a coordinator."

Those years as a coordinator have been marked by Schwartz being "blessed" with some of the game's best defensive linemen, such as Albert Haynesworth and Fletcher Cox. Now, he gets to coach Myles Garrett, who has tallied 74 1/2 sacks over his first six seasons.

"The way you effect the game the most in this league is through pass rush," Schwartz said of his philosophy, adding it will be up to him to put to put the schemes and players around Garrett to help him and others succeed. "If you can still win one-on-one on pass rush, a devastating pass rush goes a long way."

Schwartz inherits a Browns defense that was predicted by many be "elite" in 2022, but instead finished 20th in the league in points allowed per game and 25th against the run. Schwartz pledged to "keep an open mind" when evaluating players who are still on the roster, saying much of that evaluation will be based on what happens during the offseason and training camp rather than what occurred last season.

Then there's the issue of the repeated drama that seemed to spew from the unit on a weekly basis, from teammates pointing the finger at each other for missed assignments to Garrett seeming to covertly call out coaches and finally Jadeveon Clowney being benched after complaining to the press. Schwartz believes the best way to combat such discord is by establishing "trust" and letting players know he's telling them what he things is they truth, even if they may not always agree with it.

"If you don't hold your best players most accountable, then you can have some bad vibes and have things that go on," he noted. "If I'm doing a good job here, then we'll coach the undrafted player the same way we coach the veteran player who's been to multiple Pro Bowls."

Overall, Schwartz just wants the Browns to win, and recalled his leaving with the team when it moved to Baltimore as not "'goodbye,' it was just 'so long, until we see you again.'" He's happy to be back with the "passionate" fans the city has to offer, calling it "an honor."

"I feel a tremendous amout of responsibility to the fans here to get this right and to reward them," he said. "In my mind. there's only one place that would out-do that [championship] parade in Philadelphia, and we're here right now."


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