CLEVELAND, Ohio — What’s the most important position on a team’s defense? Is it an edge rusher like Myles Garrett or a cornerback like Denzel Ward?
In the Browns’ case, both, since Garrett is a game-changing talent on par with the best edge rushers in the league when he’s right.
And the Browns really missed Ward on Sunday. According to Pro Football Focus, Terrance Mitchell was targeted eight times and gave up a passer rating of 129.2. M.J. Stewart, even with his interception, gave up three catches on four targets and a rating of 106.3. Robert Jackson was a popular target, giving up six catches on 10 targets and a rating of 104.2.
The Browns need Denzel Ward on the field to go against Steelers receivers. Even against Chase Claypool, a much bigger receiver than Ward, the third-year corner can compete and we’ve seen him have success against taller receivers.
The Browns will be without Olivier Vernon on Sunday, which is a big loss, but at least they’ll have Garrett, who makes the pass rush go. If they don’t have Ward again on Sunday night — and it seems like they should have him back — it creates a domino effect leaving someone in the secondary for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense to pick on.
Doug Lesmerises asked Mary Kay Cabot and I a bunch of snappy questions during Tuesday’s Orange and Brown Talk Podcast, including about the importance of Ward to the Browns defense. You can listen to the podcast using the player below or by clicking here.
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