Thursday was a big day at the Browns facility in Berea as the new coordinators had their first opportunity to speak with the assembled Cleveland media. New DC Steve Wilks spoke last and maybe that’s why his press conference left the biggest impression on me. He spoke about his wanting to be in Cleveland and some of the defensive stars like DE Myles Garrett, CB Denzel Ward and S Jabrill Peppers.
At one point, he was asked if his defensive style would be able to create turnovers like the Browns defense did in 2018 and he responded that not only does he take pride in the fact that his defenses typically create takeaways, but also that they score touchdowns off of them. Imagine what would have happened if the Browns defense had scored on any of the 31 takeaways they had this past season. They could have won more games and possibly even made it into the playoffs.
This got me thinking of the NFL Network’s program America’s Game: 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the episode, then Bucs Coach Jon Gruden was talking about how many were saying that the Bucs defense was the best in the league and he challenged his defense to score nine touchdowns during the season off takeaways. In the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl, LB Derrick Brooks intercepted a pass from Raiders QB Rich Gannon and returned it for a touchdown which was the defense’s 9th touchdown of the season.
Having a goal is important.
For the Browns defense, a goal of scoring nine defensive touchdowns may be a bit gaudy, but it could definitely happen. As the defense continues to improve under the tutelage of Wilks and his defensive staff, it will be important for them to create and score off takeaways. Once the Browns are ready to make a Super Bowl run, scoring defensively will be a major help to the cause.
I guess you can say that the biggest takeaway from the press conference is that the Browns need to score off takeaways.