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Reviewing the D-Line: Garrett paces defense with record-tying season, but production lacks behind him

The Browns received another massive season from their star pass-rusher but were struggled to find sturdiness in other areas around him on the defensive line


The Browns are about a month removed from the 2022 season and are making plans for improvements in 2023. Doing so, however, will require looking back at how each position fared, and we'll be doing that ourselves at with a comprehensive breakdown of each spot on the roster.

Next up: the D-Line

The Raw Numbers

DE Myles Garrett: 16 games, 16 sacks, 60 tackles, 18 TFLs, 4 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles

DE Jadeveon Clowney: 12 games, 2 sacks, 28 tackles, 4 TFLs, 3 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble

DE Alex Wright: 17 games, 28 tackles, 2 TFLs, 5 pass breakups

DE Isaiah Thomas: 10 games, 1 sack, 9 tackles, 1 TFLs, 2 pass breakups

DE Chase Winovich: 8 games, 1 sack, 20 tackles, 1 TFLs, 1 pass breakup

DT Taven Bryan: 16 games, 3 sacks, 26 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 pass breakups

DT Jordan Elliott: 17 games, 2 sacks, 36 tackles, 5 TFLs, 2 pass breakups

DT Perrion Winfrey: 13 games, 0.5 sack, 22 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 pass breakups

DT Tommy Togiai: 12 games, 0.5 sack, 13 tackles, 1 pass breakup

DT Ben Stille: 6 games, 3 tackles

DT Roderick Perry: 2 games, 2 tackles

Analysis in 150 Words or Less

The Browns received most of their D-Line production up front from Garrett, who matched his franchise single-season sack record set in 2021 despite playing through a shoulder injury for most of the season. Beyond him, the Browns largely struggled to pressure opposing QBs and stop the run, ranking 28th in the league in sacks and 25th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game. Clowney fell seven sacks short of his total from his first season in Cleveland a year ago, and while the Browns saw a few promising plays from their three drafted rookies — Wright, Winfrey and Thomas — none of them rose beyond rotational roles. Each of them, however, will have chances to do more next year.

High Point

The group's best collective game of the season was in Week 8 against the Bengals when the Browns totaled a season-high five sacks against QB Joe Burrow in a 32-13 win. Garrett led the Browns with 1.5 of them, while Bryan and Thomas also each picked up sacks. A strong honorable mention for his, however, belongs to Week 12 against the Buccaneers when Garrett picked up 1.5 sacks against Tom Brady — both sacks happened on third down late in the game and forced Tampa Bay to punt.

Low Point

The Browns mustered just one sack from Elliott in their Week 4 game against the Falcons, which ended with a painful 23-20 loss. The game also included a 10-play touchdown drive from the Falcons that featured only run plays. It was also the only game Garrett missed all season due to shoulder and biceps injuries suffered in a car accident five days earlier.

What They Said

"I think the fortunate thing with the defensive line, probably a little bit different than the offensive line, is there are a number of configurations that can allow it to work. That is certainly a position group that we do value and we will continue to value, no different than the offensive line on the offensive side of the ball. We will continue to invest in it and make those decisions at the appropriate time." - Executive Vice President of Football Operations and GM Andrew Berry in January in his end-of-season news conference

Who's Back for 2023?

Garrett and Elliott are the only starters from the D-Line who are under contract for next season. Togiai, Winfrey, Wright and Thomas are also all under contract.

Who's a Potential Free Agent?

Clowney, Winovich and Bryan can all become unrestricted free agents in March. Stille and DE Chris Odom, who signed with the Browns in training camp but suffered a season-ending injury before the season started, can become exclusive rights free agents. DE Stephen Weatherly, a seven-year veteran with 8.5 career sacks who also suffered a season-ending injury before the season, is set to become an unrestricted free agent

2023 Outlook

The Browns will likely add several new players to this group and could need at least two new starters based on the free agent outlook. The group — and defense as a whole — will always revolve around Garrett, but its struggles last season highlighted an offseason need to infuse the group with more talent. New defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has a history of building excellent defensive lines, so his hire suggests the Browns could be aggressive at bolstering the group in coming months.