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Greater Cleveland Sports Award Notes: Jacob Phillips looking forward to ‘fresh start’ with Jim Schwartz

CLEVELAND — Jacob Phillips has a head start in getting to know new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.

Phillips, the third-year linebacker, has spent the start of the offseason rehabbing a torn pectoral at the Browns facility in Berea. Schwartz has been around the building after getting hired last week.

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“Obviously getting a new defense in, everybody kind of starting from the ground,” Phillips said Wednesday at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards. “We’ve got to learn the playbook. We’ve got to make relationships and earn the trust from a new coach, so it’s definitely a fresh start and I think it’s good. I think it’s needed and it will work out good.”


Joe Woods was fired after the season following three years as coordinator. Schwartz, 56, brings an impressive resume — a playoff appearance as head coach of the Lions and 14 years as a coordinator, including winning a Super Bowl with the Eagles after the 2017 season.

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“I actually met him the first day he came in and he’s a super cool dude,” Phillips said. “Super easy to talk to. His home base is in Nashville. That’s where I’m from, so we got to speak on that a little bit.

“But I know he’s excited. He’s around the facility every day that I go.”

Schwartz said he looks for “instincts and communication ability and explosiveness” from his linebackers and wants the defense to play “fast and aggressive.”

“Obviously he has a resume and you see the players that he’s been able to coach over this time and super excited for it,” Phillips said. “Super excited to learn, super excited to be around him and the depth of his knowledge. So just kind of grasping onto that moment and can’t wait till football rolls back around.”

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Phillips, a third-round pick in 2020, has dealt with injuries in all three of his seasons and missed the final 10 games this year with the torn pectoral. He was one of five Browns linebackers to finish the season on injured reserve.

“Rehab’s going good. Going real smooth,” he said. “Haven’t had any hiccups. Just grinding on that. Elevating every week, doing more, so it’s getting fun, just the different things that I can do now. So it’s cool.”


Browns defensive end Myles Garrett has gone another season without being named NFL Defensive Player of the Year, a goal he sets every year.

The finalists for the award were announced Wednesday: 49ers end Nick Bosa, Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons and Chiefs tackle Chris Jones.

“Going to work every day with a guy like Myles, you see what type of player he is and he’s a generational talent and it is kind of strange that he wasn’t mentioned,” Phillips said. “But the more games you win, the more accolades you get as a team. So it should just push us all to win more games, that way you’ll be recognized for whatever you put in.”

Garrett tied his franchise record with 16 sacks, which tied for second in the NFL, 2.5 behind leader Bosa. Jones had 15.5 and Parsons 13.5.

Former Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor agreed the Browns’ 7-10 record kept Garrett off the list.

“A lot of that is if your team is winning or not,” Taylor said. “So you really can’t play into that. We know how good he is and obviously his teammates know how good he is. So it’s just another motivation for him.”


The Guardians’ Central Division title and playoff run won Best Moment in Cleveland Sports, with manager Terry Francona accepting the award.

** Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez was Professional Athlete of the Year.

** Avon Lake basketball player Maya Austerman was given the Courage Award.

** Olmsted Falls runner Katie Clute was Female High School Athlete of the Year, and Shaker Heights hockey player Tyler Lencewicz was Male High School Athlete of the Year.

** Kent State basketball player Sincere Carry was the Male Collegiate Athlete of the Year, and the Case Western Reserve soccer team was Female Collegiate Athlete of the Year.

** Glenville High School football coach Ted Ginn Sr. was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.

** Luise Easton was the 5-Star Senior Athlete.


Browns legend Joe Thomas was the host of the awards show and told funny stories of his career. He also took a shot at Browns defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who refused to play first and second downs Oct. 23 in a loss to the Ravens, then was suspended for the final three days of the season after publicly criticizing how the coaching staff used him.

Thomas brought up legalized sports betting in Ohio and joked that it was a good bet Clowney wouldn’t win the Courage Award.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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