Although the Cleveland Browns had a disappointing 2021 season, one bright spot may have been its ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks.
They ranked fifth in passing yards allowed and third in net years per pass attempt, and a major reason why is their pass-rush combo of Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney.
While Garrett gets much of the attention when it comes to Cleveland’s front seven, Clowney is also an integral part.
After flirting with offers from other teams this offseason, he agreed to stay in The Land by signing a new contract.
Browns agree to terms with DE Jadeveon Clowney on one-year, $11M deal. (via @RapSheet, @TomPelissero) pic.twitter.com/GNxhn3Eviy
— NFL (@NFL) May 22, 2022
Clowney had a strong 2021 campaign, putting up nine sacks, 11 tackles for loss and 19 quarterback hits.
Could he be poised for an even better season in 2022?
The Browns Have Promise On The Defensive Side Of The Football
Football is the epitome of a team game, and it’s especially true on defense, especially since players there aren’t fighting or competing for offensive touches.
Garrett is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, and at age 26, he may only be getting better.
He had his best season yet in 2021 with career-highs in sacks (16), tackles (51 total), tackles for loss (17) and QB hits (33).
Having a great pass rush in the NFL is more than a one-man job, and Garrett’s presence helps take the pressure off someone such as Clowney.
In 2019, when he played for the Seattle Seahawks, a team that was weak defensively and lacked another solid pass rusher, Clowney only managed three sacks, seven tackles for loss and 13 QB hits in 13 contests.
But this past season, his first with Cleveland, those numbers went up considerably, even though he played in only one more contest than he did in 2019.
Improvements Elsewhere Could Help
There is attention being placed on Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, a linebacker who is heading into his second season.
He did well during his rookie season, and although his basic stats may not indicate it, a closer look under the hood will reveal his potential.
#Browns LB, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, shined in his rookie year.🌟
The Joker's Overall Grade of 76.5, per @PFF, ranked 9th among LBs. 🃏
Coverage Rank Among #NFL LBs:
🔸5.6 Yds/Cmp (1st in All of NFL)
🔸70.2 Passer Rating (4th)
🔸63.2% Cmp% (4th)
🔸0 TDs (T-1st)@j_owuu pic.twitter.com/5CTQj5843o
— The Hottest Take (@Hottest_TakePod) June 1, 2022
There is talk that Owusu-Koramora could be headed towards a Pro Bowl appearance as soon as this coming season.
He had a rough offseason, as his brother, whom he was very close to, was found dead.
But as is often the case with athletes facing tragedy in their personal lives, the football field may be the perfect sanctuary and release for the linebacker.
If he blossoms further in 2022, it may give Clowney more of an opening to improve on his 2022 production.
Health Will Be Key
In his eight-year NFL career, only once has Clowney appeared in every regular season game – he did so in 2017.
He appeared in 14 contests in 2021, and simply playing an entire 17-game schedule will boost his stats.
The Browns will have a rough stretch at midseason, starting with a Week 5 contest versus the Los Angeles Chargers and ending with Week 12’s tilt against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Cleveland’s regular season schedule concludes with a road contest against the hated Pittsburgh Steelers.
Last year, in Week 17 at Pittsburgh, Clowney recorded two sacks, six tackles and two QB hits.
If the race for the NFC North comes down to that last game in Western PA, will Clowney stick it to his team’s hated rival and cap a career year?
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