New Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is bringing a fresh plan to Cleveland to help jumpstart a stalled pass rush.
Schwartz said the plan starts with a deep D-line rotation to keep players playing full-tilt deep into games.
"We'll play a lot of guys up front, right?" Schwartz said Wednesday, via the team’s official transcript. "We're not just going to play four guys. We'll roll through eight, maybe even nine guys at times, trying to keep guys fresh and keep them throwing 100 mph fastballs."
A proponent of analytics, Schwartz likened playing a deep rotation to how MLB teams now prefer to bring in flame-throwers from the bullpen rather than let a starter pitch a complete game.
"You guys will get tired of my baseball analogies," he said. "A lot of D-line is a lot like throwing relief in major leagues now, right? Like these guys coming in from the pen, throwing 100, 101. I watched that guy from the Guardians last night and the guy from the Orioles last night. Both of them are throwing over 100. Unless you're Nolan Ryan, you can't do that stuff for seven, eight innings. And same thing with D-line. The tempo that we want those guys to play, we want to need to rotate fresh troops in. Offensive lines don't sub, but we can. We can keep the pressure on those guys and we can play to a high standard with that depth. And that's an important part of what we do."
Most teams want to rotate deep defensive lines. The difference is having the horses to run. This offseason, the Browns added edge Ogbo Okoronkwo and DT Dalvin Tomlinson in free agency and recently traded for Za’Daruis Smith, an edge rusher with the versatility to move inside on passing downs. The moves should help the Browns find more consistent production opposite Myles Garrett.
"Flexibility is important for matchups in the game," Schwartz added. "Moving guys around a little bit. You'll probably see a little bit more moving guys around, maybe, than they've done in the past, but it's all about just creating good matchups and finding out what the guys can do the best."
Schwartz's defenses have been at their best during a long career as a DC with a deep line -- particularly during the Philadelphia Eagles' Super Bowl run in 2017 when they could rotate edge rushers Brandon Graham, Chris Long, Derek Barnett and Vinny Curry. Importing the veteran coordinator was a big move for the Browns this offseason, and giving him players to work with up front could key a swift defensive turnaround.