It remains to be seen exactly where he’ll line up in Jim Schwartz’s defense; Brown doesn’t have extensive experience calling plays like a middle linebacker typically does. Regardless, he should be able to help this team.
In order to get to know more about Brown, I thought it’d benefit BGN readers to get a Washington perspective on him. I reached out to Ken Meringolo (@ItsRainingKen) of Hogs Haven. Here’s what he had to say.
When the Redskins signed Zach Brown before the 2017 season, I was ecstatic. Entering his age-28 season, he still had the speed to get sideline to sideline, and he was a tackling machine, coming off of a 149-tackle season in Buffalo. Had he not gotten injured that first season (he started 13 games), my guess is that things would have gone differently. He would have likely garnered more league attention/accolades and the Redskins may have delayed the transition away from the aging middle linebacker corps they had on their hands with him and Mason Foster.
Instead, 2018 saw the Redskins give playing time to Shaun Dion Hamilton, the rookie out of Alabama. Hamilton started four games for the Skins and the writing on the wall was all of a sudden in bold-type. With Hamilton, Reuben Foster, Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Ryan Anderson and now Landon Collins, the Redskins have made a deliberate move to recreate the Alabama Crimson Tide defense at the pro level.
Jettisoning Zach Brown does save some dough, which is kind of a big deal since the Redskins are paying a one-legged guy [Alex Smith] $20 million this season ... and again next season, but I think this is more youth movement-related than anything else.
Zach Brown can play ball, and Redskins fans loved watching him play, but I also think the fan base is okay with the youth movement. As for Brown, his [Pro Football Focus] grades last season speak for themselves. He has been one of the better linebackers in the league when you combine run-defense, coverage and tackling. Like I said...he can play ball, and he is not done playing ball. He knows the offenses in the NFC East, which will help him in his new green uniform.
Brown’s career has been very much up and down, with 2018 being the pleasant upswing. He missed only four tackles on 95 attempts after missing 14 a season ago.
Brown’s 2018 season has flown under the radar somewhat, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Brown ended the year ranked third among linebackers in overall grade (89.2), and he was one of four linebackers to finish the year with a grade of at least 80.0 in both run defense and coverage.
Brown has always shown well as a run defender, so his performance against the ground game in 2018 didn’t really come as a great surprise. Over the last three seasons, Brown has racked up 95 defensive stops against the run, which are the third-most among linebackers in that span, while his three-year run-stop percentage of 9.2% and his three-year run-defense grade of 84.7 rank 11th and eighth, respectively, among the 66 linebackers with at least 500 run-defense snaps in that span. While his performance against the run was unsurprising, his improvement and performance in coverage were what vaulted him among the top players at the position. After recording a putrid coverage grade of 38.1 in 2017, Brown bounced back in a big way in 2018, ending the year with the seventh-best coverage grade among linebackers (84.7). All told, he allowed 35 catches from 45 targets for just 283 yards and was one of only six linebackers to play at least 350 coverage snaps and not allow a single touchdown in coverage.