Defense Has New Identity In Playbook, Locker Room
Many a time, there have been 3-4 defenses that help teams win Super Bowls; the New England Patriots and, well, one other team that won't be mentioned, are prime examples of such successful franchises with those defensive approaches. However, new Browns head coach Pat Shurmur made it clear that he isn't a 3-4 kind of guy.
General Manager Tom Heckert and team President Mike Holmgren flaunted the same superlatives, that the Brown's defense needs to move to a 4-3 style. It's a technique that the Browns have not featured since Butch Davis was head coach back in 2004. For the Browns, it's not uncharted territory, but they were not going to make the transition without help.
In comes the 2011 NFL Draft. Whether the prospects got to visit the Radio City Music Hall or not, there would be some young forces that would join the Browns to accomplish the shifting task. It is still uncertain whether Free Agency will even take place, so the draft was going to be an area of emphasis for all 32 NFL squads.
And this draft in particular meant that quantity over quality was going to be more vital. Brown's front office knew that the depth of the class of 2011 superseded the need for potential top 10 busts, guaranteed money, and another headache. In today's world, all of the following are to be avoided; for everyone's sake.
That's why, when the moment came, the Browns dealt backwards from 6, to 27, then back to 21. Value existed in abundance in this draft. Once the top players of the class, Von Miller, Marcell Dareus, A.J. Green, and Patrick Peterson were grabbed there was more value in the sixth overall pick than the Browns needed.
And so the Browns ended up getting what they needed anyways; along with an additional first and fourth rounder for next year, and a second and fourth in this year's draft. Not bad, huh.
Their new defensive tackle, weighing in at a massive 334 pounds, Phil Taylor from Baylor, will be the focal point of the Browns new defensive vigor. Taylor, along with Ahtyba Rubin, will take running in between the tackles out of the game plan's equation for opposing running games. The Browns' outside linebackers will immediately profit from that, seeing more pitches to the outside with half back counters. (The Detroit Lions are doing something similar with their interior line with Ndamukong Suh and draftee Nick Fairley). The great thing about Taylor is that he changes direction at rapid pace; compared to most other DT's. It's quite rare to find such elusiveness at that position.
The end spots picked up a big piece in second round choice Jabaal Sheard out of Pittsburgh. He is the opposite of Taylor; smaller yet swift on his feet. The one-two punch is a nice new feature the Browns look to expose.
A presence on the front line of the defense has been lacking on this Cleveland unit for several years now. Several years ago, experts thought Courtney Brown could have been it, nope. Then it was Gerrard Warren, nu uh. Kamerion Wimbley was supposed to do the trick, then the Browns moved him to linebacker; hindering his effectiveness. But this time around, the Browns may finally have some pass-rushing goons on their squad. The Browns finished 25th in the NFL in sacks and 28th in forced fumbles. Look for those numbers to change next season, and in seasons to come with a very successful draft class of 2011.
Which Brown's draftee are you most excited about?
DT - Phil Taylor (12 votes)
DE - Jabaal Sheard (9 votes)
WR - Greg Little (16 votes)
37 total votes