When Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson signed a 3-year deal with the Cleveland Browns this past offseason, he said the reason was simple.
“They wanted me. It was more than one year. That definitely was one of my big, big things. I wanted to get off of the one-year deal thing. I wanted to find a home and make myself a dominant force in one organization and not just get passed around,” he explained during his introductory press conference.
“Honestly, the team itself, the D line itself, is what was bringing me here before (defensive end) Olivier (Vernon) because it got brought up to me before he had said that he was coming, too. Before I found out he was coming, I knew that their D line was already solid and definitely, definitely was dominant as far as getting after the quarterback. That was pretty much it. It had nothing to do with the offense or anything like that and then they ended up getting (WR) Odell (Beckham Jr.) and I was like, ‘They are cooking over there now.’ Just like that.”
While many fans have expected bigger splash plays from Richardson, his versatility and pressure on opposing offenses have been immense.
In Sunday’s win against the Dolphins, Richardson was the only opening-day starter on the defensive line for the Browns.
The Browns used Richardson’s versatility in the game by moving him around the line playing both end and tackle.
According to Pro Football Focus, Richardson made a strong impact and steady presence while he played 46 snaps.
Over the last four weeks, only Aaron Donald has a better defensive grade among interior DTs* than #Browns Sheldon Richardson (90.7).
*Out of 121 DTs with qualifying snaps
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) November 26, 2019
Statistically, Richardson delivered his best game of the year.
He finished with 5 tackles, 2 sacks, a Forced Fumble, and 1 pass defended.
For the season, Richardson has 43 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 passes defended, and 2 forced fumbles.
Freddie Kitchens On Richardson’s performance after Sunday’s win against the Miami Dolphins:
“Sheldon Richardson is a great football player. His motor, he demonstrated great leadership skills this week, which we needed. Sheldon is a guy that is going to be there in the end. He showed up for us this week.”
Richardson’s play will continue to be crucial down the stretch as the Browns look to continue their playoff push.
With Myles Garrett being lost for the year and Olivier Vernon still dealing with a knee injury, the Browns will lean on Richardson more than ever.
But, just like he showed in the Dolphins game, he seems ready to take on whatever is coming his way.