Jadeveon Clowney won’t say that he was a bad fit in his one season with the Tennessee Titans.
He is clear, however, about his belief that his new team, the Cleveland Browns, provide a better opportunity for him to resurrect his reputation as a pass rusher. That’s because the Browns’ base defense is a 4-3, which means he will be a defensive end with his hand in the ground and his mind freed of too many responsibilities.
“Basically, a 4-3 has been better for me and my rushes over the years,” Clowney said this week during a session with Cleveland media. “Even in Seattle [in 2019], I had probably one of my highest rush percentage rates because I was going forward the whole game and I wasn’t thinking that much, probably.
“Then in the 3-4, I think, there’s a lot more thinking in the 3-4 for the outside linebackers with coverage and what’s going on all around, all the receivers and stuff. Playing with my hand in the ground is a lot easier and a lot less thinking.”
Clowney, of course, was an outside linebacker in the Titans’ 3-4 defense in 2020, and it turned out to be one of his worst seasons. For the first time in his seven-year NFL career, he failed to register a quarterback sack. He did have 10 quarterback pressures, tied for third on the team, broke up four passes and forced four fumbles but fell well short of being the difference-maker franchise officials expected when they signed him as a free agent, particularly since he had played under head coach Mike Vrabel when both were with Houston.
It did not help that Clowney played just eight of the first nine games before he underwent season-ending knee surgery.
The first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft says he is now back to full health, as evidenced by the fact that he was a full participant in the Browns’ mandatory minicamp this week and looks forward to the coming campaign.
“I think I proved to myself that I was feeling good coming off the knee injury,” he said. “I’ve been training extremely hard this offseason. So, I kind of already had a feel of where I was at coming here. I wouldn’t have (come) if I wasn’t healthy.
“… I know it’s a job, but I try to say, ‘It’s football first.’ I always enjoy playing football and being out there with my teammates.”
The Browns, who signed him to a one-year, $8 million contract this offseason, will be his fourth team in as many years. He said that he hopes to stick around for a while but does not want to think too much about what might happen one way or the other.
“You just keep playing and see what happens,” Clowney said. “I enjoyed the last team [Tennessee]. I enjoyed the team before that [Seattle]. I’m enjoying this one.
“I just hope … this time it will be better for me. We’ll see what happens.”