Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns Need Help With Pass Rush

Myles Garrett Cleveland Browns

Myles Garrett and the Cleveland Browns need help improving their pass rush. Make no mistake, the Browns are in better shape than ever. But even a strong team needs improvement in some areas. Leading into 2021, Cleveland must develop ways to apply consistent pressure on quarterbacks.

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Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns Need Help With Pass Rush

Garrett wouldn’t be a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year if he wasn’t one of the best edge rushers in the league. He has been since day one. It isn’t fair that the team stats don’t reflect his superior abilities. According to Pro Football Reference , the Browns ranked 22nd with 142 quarterback pressures last season.

With 38 sacks in the regular season, they tied with the Buffalo Bills for 15th. In adjusted sack rate (6.1 percent), they ranked 19th.

Who Is To Blame?

For a defensive line that experts and fans alike consider as the strength of the team, they did not get adequate pressure on quarterbacks.

Garrett is not to blame. He accomplished 12 sacks and 32 pressures. Olivier Vernon had nine sacks of his own, but only in the last nine games of the season. His performance is not as consistent as one would hope. If he’d had those nine, plus some, spread out over the season, then you would know he could be relied upon.

Just three other players beyond Garrett and Vernon had more than one sack. Vernon and Sheldon Richardson saw an increase in their pressures from 2019 to 2020 – 28 and 22 respectively in 2020. Larry Ogunjobi was the complete reverse. He had 12 pressures and 2.5 sacks in 2020. Then a steep drop from the previous two seasons of 22.5 pressures, 5.5 sacks.

Garrett missed two games while on the reserve/COVID-19 list late in the season, when the team needed him most. He had 24 pressures, 9.5 sacks in the first nine games of the season and 12 pressures, 3.5 sacks in the last seven.

So… What To Do Now?

Ogunjobi and Vernon are both free agents and it’s unlikely they will be re-signed. The defensive front will need replacements and decent ones at that.

Adrian Clayborn’s numbers were solid considering he only played 34 percent of defensive snaps – 15 pressures, 3.5 sacks. Andrew Billings will be back after opting out of the 2020 season, but there are no clear expectations for him. Jordan Elliot will be in his sophomore year, but with the lowest ranking of all the Browns defensive linemen, he isn’t expected to contribute to a major improvement.

More Talent On The Edge

Cleveland is expected to add extra talent on the edge. The edge rusher position will be a priority all throughout free agency and the draft. As reminded by Scott Pasko of cleveland.com, Joe Woods scheme was always about creating pressure using four rushers, so that the back of the defense could focus on coverage. While this worked for the San Francisco 49ers, who ranked sixth in pressures in 2019, it didn’t work for the Browns, ranking 22nd in pressures.

The scheme can work for the Browns if they make significant upgrades along the defensive front. Garrett is great at his job but he deserves some help, which will ultimately lift Cleveland’s game.

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