The Cleveland Browns’ objective was to upgrade their defense in a major way this offseason. They may have done that, but one can certainly argue that the jury is still out with regards to how much former first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney will contribute to that.
While the seven-year veteran has a few Pro Bowls to his name, the reality is that he has only recorded three sacks over the course of his past 21 games, through the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Not that it’s something that he hides from, or could hide from even if he wanted to.
“I don’t think I’ve reached my potential”, he told reporters this week, via Tom Withers of the Associated Press. “Every time I get going, I get hurt and something happens. I’ve fallen back and taken time off”.
Injuries have certainly been a theme throughout his career. He has only played 16 games once, and has missed at least three games four times. Last year, he missed half of the season, and only played in four during his rookie season.
But that only gives you so much leeway. After all, at the end of the day, it’s about results, and while he’s never been a bad player, you have to play up to your pay, or else you find yourself on four different teams in four years, as he is now.
“When you are healthy, you have a lot of fun. When you have been playing for seven years and I have been dealing with injuries seven years, it is kind of not fun being out there, but when you are taking care of your body, you are in good health and you know what you love”, Clowney said. “It’s fun and exciting to be out there moving around and feeling good”.
The Browns, of course, are not counting on Clowney being their star pass rusher, by any means. They have Myles Garrett for that. Clowney’s job is to come in and accentuate what they’re already doing upfront, along with Malik Jackson and Andrew Billings, their new defensive tackles.
Cleveland’s defensive unit as a whole has had a lot of catching up to do to the offense, which was a top-10 unit for most of the season. They will only return a small handful of starters from last year’s defense, with Garrett, of course, being the most prominent.