Pass rush is king in the NFL, and the Cleveland Browns have stockpiled several players that can get after the passer and change games. This investment has benefitted the long-term future of this team, and they should start to see results this season.
The team pass rush starts and ends with edge rusher Myles Garrett. He is the premier edge defender in the league and has consistently changed the outcome of drives all by himself.
In just 51 career games, Garrett has compiled 42.5 sacks and ten forced fumbles. He is one of the best defenders in the entire NFL but hasn't received much help along the defensive line in his young career.
The Browns have managed to find good bargains at the edge rusher spot opposite Garrett, but none warranted any extra attention from opposing offenses. Garrett has had to deal with opposing teams scheming plays away from him, which is customary for superstar edge rushers.
What is not customary is that he has never had any substantial pass rushers at the height of their game to play with. Edge rusher Olivier Vernon was solid in his few years with the team, but he was only one player.
This offseason, the Browns set out to find more pass rush help for Garrett. They brought in Jadeveon Clowney and Takk McKinley, two solid edge presences that will allow Garrett to operate with a little less pressure.
They also added several defensive tackles this offseason. None are outstanding pass rushers, but they have specific roles to fill during passing downs.
If the NFL has taught front offices one thing about defense over the past few years, you can never have enough pass rush. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2020 Super Bowl in large part because the Chiefs couldn't find a way to protect quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Football is now predicated on how many big plays you can create on both offense and defense. If you can consistently get to the quarterback, your chances of creating a turnover become much better.
The Browns play a host of dangerous quarterbacks this season. Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, and Aaron Rodgers are just a few names that jump to mind.
They need to force these quarterbacks off their game, and the way to do that is by creating pressure. The Browns can't afford for these quarterbacks to settle into the game and find a rhythm, and if the pass rush continually puts them off their spots, they can limit the damage these passers do.