For a defensive head coach and a defensive General Manager, that is a possibility.
The linebacker position for the Cleveland Browns has been the chink in the defensive chain for many seasons, and 2013 wasn’t any different. The linebackers are responsible for the tight-ends and runningbacks, and opposing offenses took advantage of this weakness throughout the season.
Currently, our linebackers are: Paul Kruger, Craig Robertson, D’Qwell Jackson, Jabaal Sheard, Barkevious Mingo and Quentin Groves.
A measuring stick that calculates every conceivable intangible for every team, every position, every play, and every game is the DVOA from FootballOutsiders.com. The Browns over-all DVOA defense ranked 28th in the league. DVOA provides a glimpse into why the Browns defense was ranked number twenty-eight – the linebackers. The Browns defensive line and defensive backs graded out much higher.
Despite the Browns being ranked high defensively in several categories for 2013, we had clearly seen throughout the season, especially in late season, there were too many breakdowns. However, Craig Robertson has been the weakest link on defense, and many opposing offenses threw right at, or ran towards Robertson.
- Paul Kruger: 4.5 sacks, 5 passes defensed, 26 tackles and 21 assists.
- Craig Robertson: 3 sacks, 2 passes defensed, 57 tackles with 28 assists.
- D’Qwell Jackson: 1.5 sacks, 7 passes defensed, 75 tackles with 65 assists.
- Jabaal Sheard: 5.5 sacks, 4 passes defensed, 19 tackles with 17 assists.
- Barkevious Mingo: 5 sacks, 3 passes defensed, 29 tackles and 13 assists.
Quentin Groves, since being drafted in 2008 has posted career totals: 8.5 sacks, 6 passes defensed, 111 tackles [never posting more than 34 in a single season], with 30 assists. Groves was a familiar name for Horton’s defense, but certainly an over-rated outside linebacker. Sheard started the 2013 season at outside linebacker, a position unfamiliar to him and still posted impressive numbers. Mingo started only three games, seeing action in fifteen, but appears set to see more action in Pettine’s defense.
Replacing Craig Robertson and Quentin Groves would be addition by subtraction. In their place, Sheard on one side, Mingo on the other, D’Qwell Jackson in the middle along side 2014 draft pick C.J. Mosley, would impact the the linebacker unit and give opposing offenses something to think about.
C.J. Mosley is a 6′ 2″, 232lb 2013 Dick Butkus Award winner, Inside Linebacker, who many are calling “the surest bet in the draft”. Reports are that the 3-4 defense is best suited for his athleticism and aggressive style of play. That is the ideal marriage for Mike Pettine’s style of defense.
Some call into question his durability, but that is football – and it didn’t stop Mosley from becoming the “surest bet in the draft”.