Connect with us


How ‘Expert’ Jim Schwartz Presents Steelers Offense Problems (+)



Steelers Browns Myles Garrett
Cleveland Browns Defensive End Myles Garrett

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns are all set for another AFC North clash on Monday Night Football but the starts to each of their seasons couldn’t be more drastically different. Pittsburgh is coming off an embarrassing home loss which could be succinctly categorized as a lifeless performance. On the other side of the spectrum, Cleveland started their season off with an impressive victory against the defending division champion Cincinnati Bengals.

In surprising fashion, the Browns defense led by new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, shut down Joe Burrow and his high-powered aerial attack. Cleveland hired Schwartz this past offseason to help cure their defensive woes after finishing 25th in EPA/play in 2022. The long-time defensive coordinator is a familiar face around the league, having spent 27 years in the NFL in some capacity. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t hesitate to heap praise on the Browns hire.

“They (Cleveland) went out and hired a veteran four-down personnel expert in Jim Schwartz. Man, I’ve known him for a long time. He fits them. They fit him,” Tomlin said. Sometimes when teams make hires from the outside, there’s a transition phase where the unit takes a while to get adjusted to the new scheme or a delay where play caller has to get adjusted to his personnel. That simply wasn’t the case for the Browns this past weekend. They were able to hold Joe Burrow to a career-low 82 passing yards on 33 drop backs, all of which resulted in just three points on the scoreboard.

Moving Myles Garrett

With Jim Schwartz having a long-standing reputation as a pass-rushing guru thanks to his wide-nine success in previous stops, pairing him with Myles Garrett was an easy choice. It’s not that Garrett was the reason for the Browns underwhelming on that side of the ball in previous seasons but more-so the possibility that he could take game to yet another level. In their first outing together, it was nonstop destruction. The former number one overall selection totaled six pressures, two QB hits and a sack in week one.

After diving into the tape, it wasn’t just the production that stood out but instead, how some of the production came to fruition. Schwartz installed some unique wrinkles by lining Garrett up as a standup inside linebacker mugging the A-gap. By rushing five defenders, they were able to dictate the offense into some “5-0” or “man” protections with Garrett lined up across from the center with a two-way go. Even at 275 pounds, he’s a freakish mover with rare change of direction ability to win with power, speed or finesse.


The center is typically most teams weak line in pass protection so this automatically gives the defense a huge edge. Cleveland also used Garrett on stunts to where he could draw excess attention away from others. On these four particular reps with him aligned inside, Cleveland got a sack while forcing three incompletions. Against the blitz last week, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow completed just three of his twelve passes for 23 yards according to PFF. It’s imperative for the Steelers to be prepared for an onslaught of pressure from all angles on Monday night.

The Steelers have had some success mitigating Garrett’s impact at times in the past by setting chipping tight ends to his side and basically forcing him to rush twice. But this change will make Garrett’s alignment less predictable and in turn, more difficult to game plan against. While the tackles will certainly have their hands full with him over the course of the game, the interior lineman will also likely get a shot at him.

A Secondary Schwartz Trusts

In his press conference earlier this week, Tomlin was complimentary of the Browns cornerbacks. “… Their corner ability to stand up in man to man on the line of scrimmage versus Cincinnati’s receivers was the story of the game on either side of the ball,” Tomlin said. Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins are both dynamic, number one caliber receivers who win in different ways. You rarely see those guys struggle, but the Browns secondary clamped both of them, holding them under 40 yards receiving collectively.

Cleveland’s invested heavily in their talented secondary in recent seasons. Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome were both first-round picks while Martin Emerson was a day-two selection. According to Sports Info Solutions, Schwartz called man coverage at high rate of 44% of snaps last Sunday. It was very evident that he has immense trust in his guys on the outside to win those individual matchups, even sometimes without safety help over the top. If Schwartz was willing to press the Bengals receivers, that’s an indication that he’s likely to deploy this on a weekly basis.

It wasn’t just their corners either. Safety Grant Delpit looked stellar, including locking up Tee Higgins on a slot fade down the right sideline in a matchup that most offensive coordinators only dream of. Pittsburgh will be without their top playmaker in Diontae Johnson due to injury which opens the door for some young players to step up in a crucial matchup. George Pickens should be a big part of the game plan on Monday night and Calvin Austin III flashed a couple times in limited action against the Niners. Along with veteran free agent signing Allen Robinson, Kenny Pickett will be relying heavily on his trip to fare much better than the Bengals weapons did last week.


Looking Ahead

It’s definitely fair to acknowledge the small sample size at this junction, not just for the Browns defense, but for both teams. With Schwartz inheriting a good amount of talent defensively and seemingly pressing all of the right buttons in his first action, this is a unit that cannot be taken lightly whatsoever. The Steelers will need to get off to a much better start this week, prioritizing staying ahead of the chains and winning the “weighty down” as Mike Tomlin calls them.

It’s not the first time that a Mike Tomlin team has gotten punched in the mouth on opening weekend. It likely won’t be the last either. But if there’s one thing that rings true on a yearly basis, Tomlin’s troops typically respond well to these types of bleak showings. It’s a good thing, too. Starting the season 0-2, with both losses coming at home, would be an extremely unpleasant start for the 2023 Steelers.

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
September 15, 2023 7:04 pm

jim schwartz making his tacky comment about Joe Greene etc, listen pal we have won 2 superbowls since then and went to 4 and you?

September 15, 2023 7:45 pm
Reply to  mckg

Ignorant comment. He won Super Bowl LII.

Steelers Now in Your Mailbox!

Enter your email address to get notifications of new posts in your mailbox.

Subscribe Today!