After looking at the offense and it’s similarities, let’s take a look at the defense. Coordinated by Todd Grantham, the Cleveland Browns defense of 2007 was mediocre at best. The defense ranked 21st in the NFL in points allowed giving up just under 24 a game. How does this year’s defense compare to the 2007 team that went 10-6?
When I go back and look at the players on that defense, there’s no one that completely stands out. It was a defense built around so-so players. It was D’Qwell Jackson‘s second year in the NFL and he produced over 100 solo tackles for the first time in his career.
Kamerion Wimbley was supposed to be the star sack specialist, but finished with a team best, five sacks. Veteran linebacker, Willie McGinest was showing his age and was more of a coach than player. They did have an always consistent and fan favorite Andra Davis too.
The secondary consisted of Sean Jones, Brandon McDonald, Eric Wright, Brodney Pool, and Leigh McBodden. Together, they picked off 16 balls as a group. McDonald and Wright never panned out and have done nothing since leaving the Browns.
The defensive line had Orpheus Roye, Robaire Smith, and Shaun Smith. As part of Grantham’s 3-4 defensive scheme, they were among the worse in stopping the run. Between the three of them, they accumulated 114 tackles. While Roye was serviceable in his time here, Smith and Smith hardly did anything.
When I look at this year’s defense, there is no reason to believe that the 2013 brown-and-orange defense is not better than their predecessors. With a front seven of Paul Kruger, D’Qwell Jackson, Quentin Groves, Barkevious Mingo, Ahtyba Rubin, Desmond Bryant, and Phil Taylor, on paper, The present Cleveland is a much more talented and has a faster front seven than the previously mentioned. This team has also converted last year’s team leader in sacks, Jabaal Sheard to linebacker.
The secondary isn’t even a question in terms of better athletes. I would much rather have Joe Haden, TJ Ward, Leon McFadden, and Tashaun Gipson/Eric Hagg/Jamoris Slaughter manning our secondary than the 2007 defensive backs. Haden is ready to have his first Pro Bowl year.
Finally, the X-Factor this year is defensive coordinator, Ray Horton. The gutsy play caller plans to be aggressive and throw some wild blitz schemes at teams. Remember, Horton comes from Dick LeBeau, a defensive genius. Both Horton and LeBeau are former players that know how to communicate to their guys.
The 2013 Browns defense will be ranked in the top ten this year, Horton won’t accept anything less. If and when the Browns stop the run, everything else will fall in to place.
Ryan Ruiz is the Cleveland Browns Beat Writer for The Inscriber. You can follow him on Twitter @ryanpruiz24 and Facebook.