There is no shortage of buildup for the 2019 Cleveland Browns. The additions on both sides of the ball have Cleveland fans screaming playoffs.

One player that exploded on defense in last year’s 7-8-1 season comes at number two on the essential player list for the 2019 Cleveland Browns, defensive end Myles Garrett.

Find out who has made the list up to this point:

10. Defensive end Olivier Vernon

9. Defensive Tackle Sheldon Richardson

8. Tight End David Njoku 

7. Guard Austin Corbett

6. Cornerback Denzel Ward

5. Left Tackle Greg Robinson 

4. Running Back Nick Chubb

3. Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. 

The hype

Every NFL scribe is talking up the Cleveland Browns. They are no longer the laughingstock of the league. The team is full of impact players on both sides of the ball including Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Odell Beckham Jr., on offense and the most valuable player on the defense, defensive end Myles Garrett.

The Pro Football Network staff recently voted Myles Garrett the favorite to win the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year. What an honor! All joking aside, Garrett is ready to take the league over and surpass his 13.5 sack total from last season.

Adding Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon to play beside Larry Ogunjobi and Garrett has the Browns faithful attempting to name this stalwart defensive line. Creative names such as “Mount Rush More” and “Danger Dawgs” to name a few of the creative choices from the beloved Dawg Pound. My personal favorite is “The Lake Front.”

 His 2018 Pro Bowl Season

Myles Garrett was riddled with injuries in his rookie season in 2017. However, he emerged as a leader and a defensive force by making seven sacks and 31 total tackles in 11 games.

Garrett went to an entirely different level in 2018.

He earned selection to his first Pro Bowl after registering 13.5 sacks for 75.5 lost yards and finished the season half-sack short of tying Reggie Camp’s 35-year-old single-season record for sacks.

He also became the first Browns defensive lineman to earn All-Pro status since Michael Dean Perry made the AP All-Pro team in 1994.

Garrett is a tireless worker and led the league in snap counts.  He received plenty of attention on the field due to the lack of production from his right defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and the rest of the Browns defense which ranked 22nd with 37 sacks.

Defenses did not have to be concerned with Ogbah. According to Pro Football Focus, Ogbah ranked dead last in pass-rush win percentage (7.5%) among the 61 NFL edge defenders with at least 300 pass-rushes on the season.

The Browns add defensive playmakers

Pro Football Focus credited the Browns big offseason moves — landing Richardson as a free agent and acquiring Vernon via trade with the Giants — as a reason Cleveland landed in elite territory.

“One of the biggest movers this offseason. Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson are easy plug-and-play options who earned pass-rushing grades of 86.0 and 65.8 respectively last season.”

Olivier Vernon led the New York Giants last season with seven sacks and 21 quarterback hits. Since 2013, he has averaged eight sacks per season. Vernon is a proven pass-rusher who is at his best defending the run.

Sheldon Richardson has played at least 600 snaps each season in the NFL and started his NFL career by winning the 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year award. He is a force in the run game and picked up run-defense grades of 88.0 or higher in 2013, 2014, and 2016, according to Pro Football Focus.

Larry Ogunjobi started all 16 games last season. He made 32 tackles and one sack his first year, then 52 tackles and 5.5 sacks with 15 quarterback hits in 2018.

Additionally, let’s not forget the 2019 preseason star Devaroe Lawrence, who was acquired from the New Orleans Saints late last season. He has registered six tackles and three sacks this preseason and has looked unstoppable.

The additions of Vernon and Richardson should alleviate some of the double-teams on Garrett. They provide substantial upgrades next to Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi and give the Browns as elite a four-man defensive front as you will find in the NFL.

Steve Wilks vs. Gregg Williams

The Cleveland Browns hired Steve Wilks as their new defensive coordinator after his dismal attempt as the Arizona Cardinals head coach last season. The Cardinals fired Wilks after only one season as a head coach. The Cardinals finished 3-13, their worst record in 31 years in Arizona.

Wilks served as defensive backs coach and later defensive coordinator for the Panthers. He guided the Panthers defense to rank No.7 in yards allowed (317.1) and tied for 10th in points surrendered (20.4).

Wilks describes his defensive philosophy:

“It can change week to week. I am aggressive by nature, but it is all about trying to put your guys into the best position to be successful. It could change… It is all about trying to create negative plays on first and second down so you can get exotic in some of your third-down pressures and things you want to do,” Wilks said.

The Browns have a talented base on defense, but they need to improve on their tackling. They ranked dead last in missed tackles during the 2018 season.

In 2018, the Browns defense was led by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was also served as the Browns interim head coach after the firing of Hue Jackson. Williams was fairly set in his ways, and while he was a capable defensive coach, he was more show than substance.

One aspect that truly boggles the mind is the story concerning Myles Garrett. Garrett commented that Williams insisted that Garrett was only allowed to utilize two pass-rushing moves.

“I hopefully have more freedom to be the player I want to be,” Garrett says. “Gregg was more like: ‘You win with these two moves. I don’t want to see anything else out of you.’ It’s kind of hard with two moves. I feel like you can’t always be so predictable. You can be as strong or fast as you want, but speed chop and power move aren’t always going to work. You have to mix up what you’re doing. Sometimes you have to stutter step, sometimes you have to spin inside, you have to run some games. You have to have some freedom to throw different looks at them, and we didn’t always have that.”

It is unimaginable that you suppress an elite talent like Garrett. Wilks has mentioned that he will put Garrett in the best position to be successful. That should be a no-brainer to every coach. The NFL should see Garrett with every inch of freedom available. Look out NFL quarterbacks!

2019 Defensive Player of the Year

After going 7-8-1 in 2018, the Cleveland Browns will look to take another step forward and enter playoff contention next season. The offense led by franchise quarterback Baker Mayfield should be explosive, and with the additions on defense, they should have no trouble creating pressure on quarterbacks.

The Browns defense line looked tremendous in their first appearance together when they faced with Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The unit registered back-to-back sacks to open up the game as they had as many sacks (5) as Winston had completions after three series.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Garrett led the league in sacks this season. With a stacked offense, the Browns will be leading in games and their defense should be teeing off on their opponents’ quarterbacks. The player leading that charge will be the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year Myles Garrett.

 

Dennis Sosic is a writer for PFN covering the Cleveland Browns. He is also a co-host of the Fantasy Fixers Podcast of the PFN Podcast Network. You can follow him @CALL_ME_SOS on Twitter.