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‘Let Me Know If Mean Joe Or Jack Lambert Are Playing:’ Browns DC Jim Schwartz Not Worried About Steelers’ History


Jim Schwartz has been coaching in the NFL for a long time, getting his start in 1993 as a scout and 1996 as a coach. During that time, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns have played a lot of football, the Browns returning in 1999. And generally, the Steelers have dominated the last two decades, especially when they’re hosting the Browns.

But for Schwartz, throw all the history about the window. Forget about the last two decades, the Steel Curtain, the days of Otto Graham. The only thing that matters is Monday night.

Speaking to reporters Friday, Schwartz said he may respect the Steelers but he couldn’t care less about their backstory. Here’s what he said via The OBR’s Fred Greetham.

“They have a great, great storied history of defense,” Schwartz said. “We have a lot of respect for what they’ve done and things like that. But none of that is going to mean anything on Monday night. It’s going to be the two teams this year. These guys. Let me know if Mean Joe [Greene] and Jack Lambert are playing, because if we need a plan for Franco Harris or Lynn Swann or John Stallworth or Franco or Terry Bradshaw, we’ll get that ready. But those guys aren’t playing. This is a new year. This is a new year.

“So what’s happened in the past, that doesn’t mean anything to this game. We have respect for them. We always respect our opponents, but we’re going to accentuate us and what we do well and try to give our best performance and not worry about the rest of the league or what’s happened in the past or what’s going to happen 10 weeks down the road. Let’s keep our eyes on today and Monday night.”

Schwartz is looking to bring a new culture to a Browns defense as Cleveland looks to make a run in a year with high expectations. Known for a prickly personality, Schwartz got results in Week One in shutting down the Cincinnati Bengals’ potent offense. Quarterback Joe Burrow completed barely more than 40 percent of his throws and was held to just 82 passing yards in the Browns’ 24-3 win. Star WR Ja’Marr Chase caught a handful of short passes while WR Tee Higgins was held without a catch on eight targets, the first player with such a line since WR Amari Cooper (now a Cleveland Brown) when he was with the Raiders in 2015. It was a huge AFC North win for the Browns to begin their season.

Now, he’ll look to do the same against a Steelers offense that certainly underwhelmed in Week One, held to just seven points by a stout San Francisco 49ers defense. Another Browns victory would put them in early control of the AFC North with two divisional wins. Last year, every team in the North went .500 in the division, finishing 3-3. The team who gets to at least four wins this year probably becomes its champ.

History says Cleveland will lose this game. Pittsburgh doesn’t lose on Monday night at home, winning its list 20 in a row. The Browns don’t win in Pittsburgh, defeated in their last 19 games in the Steel City. And Cleveland hasn’t started a season 2-0 while the Steelers haven’t lost Weeks One and Two at home since 1952. On paper, the deck is stacked against Cleveland. But Schwartz doesn’t carry that baggage. Nor do all their new additions, the likes of S Juan Thornhill, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, and DE Ogbo Okoronkwo. For them, it’s a clean slate. The past doesn’t dictate the present.

The Steelers will use a sliver of that same mentality, looking to put away the ugliness of last week and get on track with their first victory of the season.

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