Reasonable to expect sacks to climb

Posted by Vic Carucci on June 4, 2013 – 11:12 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

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

Paul says: “The Browns had 38 sacks last year. With additions and emphasis, will we see 50 sacks and five more interceptions this year?”

I say: I can’t put exact figures on the Browns’ defensive – or offensive – production this year, Paul. There are so many variables that can impact that.

However, I would tend to think that the additions of defensive coordinator Ray Horton, outside linebackers Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo, and defensive lineman Desmond Bryant should do plenty to increase the Browns’ sack and interception totals.

Do they equal 12 more sacks and five more interceptions than 2012? Who knows? But I don’t think it’s crazy to expect a double-digit increase in sacks, just as I don’t think it’s crazy to expect several more interceptions.

Both should be byproducts of a defense that has loaded up with players who can generate consistent heat on the quarterback and is guided a coordinator and staff of assistants determined to have it produce difference-making plays.

Tim says: “We’ve heard a lot about the outside rush linebackers, and we all know that D’Qwell Jackson is the leader of the group and defense. Who is in the mix as the inside linebacker beside Jackson in the base defense and how are they adjusting to the new scheme?”

I say: Craig Robertson and James-Michael Johnson are the primary contenders for the starting spot at inside linebacker next to Jackson, Tim.

Both seem to be doing a solid job of making the transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense. Robertson’s game is mainly based on strong instincts and his knack for being around the ball. That isn’t something that would be impacted by a new scheme. Robertson also is a naturally aggressive player, making him a good fit for a scheme that stresses that quality.

Johnson is a player who is highly attentive to his assignments and tends to learn quickly and retain what he is taught. He might not be as athletically gifted as Robertson, but he helps himself by keeping mistakes to a minimum.

As second-year players, Robertson and Johnson are benefitting greatly from working next to Johnson on a regular basis in practice. I would say Robertson has the edge to land the starting job, but with all of the mixing and matching Horton likes to do, I expect both players to see a great deal of action.

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