Skip to main content

Jim O'Neil: Browns can be NFL's best secondary

Browns defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil has set the bar high for Cleveland's deep cast of defensive backs in 2015.

"I think we have the potential to be the best secondary in the NFL," O'Neil told reporters Thursday, per Daryl Ruiter of WKRK-FM.

O'Neil echoed the high praise we heard from safety Donte Whitner in May, when he told The Plain Dealer: "I would have to say us (and) I would have to say Seattle and then based on the players the New York Jets picked up, I'd say you have to put them up there (as the best secondary) but they haven't collectively done anything together so I would say the Cleveland Browns and the Seattle Seahawks."

Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden also piped up earlier this month, saying: "I feel we could be No. 1. I like the Seahawks, of course."

Cleveland has just as much to prove as the Jets. Whitner claims New York hasn't done anything as a unit, but that's not true: Gang Green went out of its way to reunite cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, who made New York a whirlwind in days past. The Jets also added former Browns cover man Buster Skrine in free agency, giving new coach Todd Bowles -- a master when it comes to coaching up secondaries -- plenty to work with.

As for the Browns, Pro Football Focus pointed out that Cleveland and Seattle were the only two teams with every defensive starter earning a positive coverage grade in 2014. Still, seven squads gave up fewer passing yards than the Browns while five teams gave up fewer touchdowns through the air. 

Man for man, I'd still put the Seahawks above all others when healthy, while the influx of talent in New York makes the Jets my No. 2 pick. The Browns have a chance to land near the top, but this young Cleveland team needs to take apart live competition before the blue ribbons are handed out.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast discusses the latest NFL news including Dez Bryant's contract situation and the latest on Johnny Manziel. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content