When asked about defensive lineman Nate Orchard getting more playing time, Williams had this to say: “What we do is and you will see in all honesty, I don’t believe in starters.”
New Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has had a lot of experience coaching in the NFL, both as a defensive coordinator at multiple stops around the league and a brief stint as head coach in Buffalo. Knowing his resume, when he brings up new ideas, it carries some cache.
He goes further to clarify his remark, declaring, that “You can’t play 90 snaps per game. Ask Myles (Garrett) in college. You can’t play 80 snaps in a game. As a defensive lineman that has a fistfight in a booth for three hours, and then he is running back and forth, if we had the right percentage – if I could say we could have 55 percent or 45 percent of all of the guys and they are not backups where we are splitting time because we all trust everybody – you will see the impact of a full-speed player over a player who is tired. The other thing you will see is that fatigue is directly related to injury, especially with a big guy. We are going to try do everything we can to keep it even when we can.”
It’s not revolutionary to say you are going to play multiple players, or keep a rotation of guys coming in and out, but the implication Williams brings up causes a few things worthy of further introspection. One thing to come away with is the actual rotation. The unofficial depth chart for Monday night’s game has Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah on the ends with Desmond Bryant and Danny Shelton at defensive tackles. The second team is made up of Cam Johnson and Carl Nassib at defensive ends and Jamie Meder and Trevon Coley at tackle.
Orchard is on the third team but he has been highly praised by Williams. He was quoted as saying, “I think he fits in very well with what we do, but I don’t have any hesitations in also incorporating some of the things that he got a chance to do last year here. It is not wasted time. I do know he likes the way we are utilizing him better than last year. I know that. That is OK, but I think he has been making an impact. The big thing with him will be staying healthy and just going and keep on going. I don’t have to worry about his effort when he is out there. He is flying around. He gives it to you every single play he gets a chance to play.”
Orchard getting more playing time would make sense when you consider what was said about his time on the field. He registered a sack and two assists in the preseason game against the Saints, a promising output for a player that was limited to three games last year, only accruing two tackles and two assists.
The other thing to draw from Williams’ quote of “I don’t believe in starters,” is the high regard with which the coaching staff has on the players. It’s easy to keep a player fresh when you have someone capable on the bench, almost assuring the same production, but it becomes harder when the depth is lacking and it has been since the Browns came back into the league. While nobody is saying Carl Nassib is on the level with Myles Garrett, it’s encouraging to hear coaches talk about these players in such a way and game plan so as to think that they are closer than previous rosters. The years of stockpiling players at the mid level and back end of drafts might be finally paying off. Hopefully, with Williams’ pressurized attack plan and Orchard’s flexibility, we could be seeing a turning point.