Last season was a down year for the Cleveland Browns.
With the Baker Mayfield’s regression, the drama surrounding Odell Beckham Jr., and the Browns missing the playoffs, last season left a lot to be desired.
However, one aspect of the team was on the up.
Joe Woods and the defense made considerable improvements from the 2020 season.
From allowing fewer scrimmage yards to racking up big sack numbers, the defense gave Browns fans at least one positive to hang their hat on.
Now with the 2022 season looming, there is hope for an even better defense.
With some big names returning to the team, former rookies settled in for their sophomore year, and Joe Woods getting ready to coach his third year with the team, the Browns have plenty of reasons they can be a top-5 defense this season.
1. Jadeveon Clowney Returning
One of the biggest questions heading into the offseason this year was if Jadeveon Clowney would return to the team.
Thankfully, he decided to re-sign with the Browns on a 1-year deal worth up to $11 million.
Now the Browns can rest a little easier knowing they have a top-edge opposite of Myles Garrett.
#Browns DC Joe Woods believes Jadeveon Clowney was major positive for team this season — healthy, productive, good teammate.
— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) January 6, 2022
All of last season, Garrett was in the conversation to break Michael Strahan’s sack record (22.5) and win Defensive Player of the Year.
A big part of that was due to the help from Clowney.
Though he came up short, having Clowney on the other end of the line should give him another fair chance to reach those achievements again and help the Browns become a top defense.
2. The Secondary Will Improve
There are few areas of the team the Browns have more loaded than their defensive backs.
With Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome II, Greedy Williams, Grant Delpit, and John Johnson III, the team has an amazing pool of players in their secondary.
And after one year of improving on individual skill sets and developing team chemistry, the secondary should make some major improvements.
John Johnson III picks Deshaun Watson at #Browns practice today. Defense goes wild. pic.twitter.com/432D0IMdXz
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) June 1, 2022
John Johnson III should be more than familiar with Joe Woods’s scheme and shouldn’t take half the season to figure it out like last year.
As a rookie Greg Newsome II
Had an 85.6 passer rating when targeted
& 9 passes defended
Expect a huge jump in production with him playing in the slot more #Browns
— Mac🦬 (@tha_buffalo) June 1, 2022
Greg Newsome II is coming off an impressive rookie campaign and will likely improve in his sophomore year.
And a year after recovering from a torn Achilles, Grant Delpit should come into the season more ready than ever to make a real impact.
Overall, the secondary will have much more familiarity with each other and should be even more formidable in the passing game.
3. Joe Woods Will Take Another Step Forward
After his first season with the Browns in 2020, fans were calling for Joe Woods’s head.
The team’s running stopping was particularly bad and the defense couldn’t do anything against high-powered offenses.
But in 2021, the defense saw a change in course.
Woods took the defense from 21st in points allowed per game to 3rd.
The defense also held teams to single-digit scores consecutively for the first time in Browns expansion history.
We have a super bowl winning defensive coordinator in Joe Woods.. #Browns
So I wanna win a Super Bowl with 1 of the best defenses in the league.
— Mike Dawg$ 🏈 (@Brownie_Insider) March 14, 2022
Now there is hope Woods can continue to improve, especially considering how much the team has improved around him.
Some fans believe Woods is in the hot seat this year, but if he can continue his trend and give the Browns a top-5 defense, he’ll likely be regarded as one of the best coaches on the team.
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