Young linebackers can make an impact

Posted by Vic Carucci on February 11, 2013 – 10:49 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

You’ve got questions and comments that you submit to the Browns’ official Facebook and Twitter pages. Here’s what I have to say about what you have to say:

Chance – For the linebackers we had back there with D’Qwell Jackson, we didn’t do that bad last season. I think James Michael-Johnson will turn out really good.

I mostly agree with your assessment, Chance.

The defense in general and the linebacking corps in particular had to overcome tremendous hardships with the loss of veteran linebackers Chris Gocong for the entire season with an Achilles injury and Scott Fujita for most of the year with a neck injury.

The Browns had to lean far too heavily on youth at the position, and, consequently, that placed tremendous pressure on the shoulders of Jackson and the rest of the defense. Jackson held up exceptionally well, and the multiple young linebackers who played made solid contributions.

But the circumstances were not going to allow for a whole lot of defensive success.

In order to make a smooth transition from the 4-3 to the 3-4 base scheme that new defensive coordinator Ray Horton will employ, the Browns must find ways to enhance their linebacking corps.

Some of that will likely come from acquiring linebackers whose specific skill set are more conducive to working as outside and inside linebackers in the 3-4 look via the draft and perhaps free agency or trade.

Another key factor in allowing the team to transition successfully to the 3-4 is the coaching provided by Horton, inside linebackers coach Ken Flajole, outside linebackers coach Brian Baker, and other defensive coaches. They should do plenty to help acclimate Jackson to what is expected of him as an inside linebacker, even though he already has some experience in that role and is highly versatile.

Their bigger work will come from guiding the likes of younger players such as Johnson, Craig Robertson, and L.J. Fort, as well as draft picks and undrafted free agents.

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