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DC Jim Schwartz expresses his gratitude towards Titans and HC Mike Vrabel

Schwartz spent the previous two seasons as a senior defensive assistant with Tennessee

Jim Schwartz Week 3 Titans

As DC Jim Schwartz sat down at the podium for his Thursday press conference, and before he touched on the Browns next opponent in the Titans offense, he had a message to share. It was one filled with gratitude. 

Schwartz took a moment to thank the Titans organization, head coach Mike Vrabel, owner Amy Adams Strunk and former general manager Jonathon Robinson for his previous two years with the Titans.

"A lot of you guys know I was in a tough spot a couple of years ago, I had to step away from the game," Schwartz said on Thursday. "My thyroid had gone berserk, and I needed a bunch of different operations and procedures. Mike Vrabel called me it seemed like every week for about four months, and he never once talked about football. He just always just asked me how I was doing and everything else."

Schwartz had only previously known of Vrabel when he was a player in the league with the Steelers and the Patriots. Yet, Schwartz's kids attended school in Nashville, and when he was back in Nashville, they would sometimes run into one another. They also happened to live close to one another in the same neighborhood in the offseason. Schwartz said Vrabel touched based with him about once or twice a year.

They grew their relationship as Vrabel continued to check in with Schwartz after he stepped away.

"I started feeling a little bit better, got my vision back and a bunch of different things," Schwartz continued. "And he invited me to start just, like, one day a week. And one day turned into two and turned into three. Vrabel never once made it anything about other than do what you feel that you can do. And pretty soon, about six months later, I was pretty much back to normal and pretty much working normal hours."

Schwartz spent the previous two seasons with the Titans from 2021-22 as a senior defensive assistant before he joined the Browns in 2023. During his time with Vrabel, Schwartz said he learned more about game management and dealing with a team. He had the chance to help mentor the younger coaches and serve in his role as a defensive assistant.

Yet, Schwartz had previous ties to Tennessee. He first served as a defensive assistant in 1999 before he became the linebackers coach for the Titans in 2000. Then Schwartz moved up and became the defensive coordinator from 2001-2008.

Schwartz brings a unique perspective to Sunday's matchup against the Titans, knowing some of the tendencies of QB Ryan Tannehill or RB Derrick Henry, and the challenges they present to the Browns defense. Tannehill can control the game, but then use the Titans run game with Henry to their advantage. Through two games this season, Henry has rushed for 143 yards on 40 carries and one touchdown. He also has 71 reception yards on five catches.

Schwartz is confident with how the Browns defensive line is built that they present a tough matchup to the Titans offensive line. He sees their defensive line as the engine and what drives their defense. They must force Henry to run sideways and not down the field, and Schwartz said the defensive line is going to play an important role in doing so by getting penetration and keeping Henry from coming downhill. In Schwartz's eyes, Sunday's matchup will require team defense, especially in how they tackle and with their physicality.

As the Browns take the field at home on Sunday against the Titans, it's a moment that Schwartz will feel that sense of gratitude towards the head coach on the other sideline. And then he'll turn his focus towards leading a dominant Browns defense.

"But it was really an honor to be back in that organization. It was an honor to work with guys and the staff," Schwartz said. "I think I have some lifelong friends on that staff, and I'm greatly indebted to Vrabel for what he did and for helping me out. I just hope that I gave as much as I received in those two years. So, it'll be good to look it'll be good to see those guys, a son of Northeast Ohio coming back home to play a game, and I figured the best way I can honor them is to play really good defense on Sunday."