The Browns had high hopes last season after the solid 2018 rookie campaign of QB Baker Mayfield, but he went through a big sophomore slump.
Cleveland has a new head coach and offensive coordinator and while the team has a lot of talent can Mayfield get it done and help end the Browns’ long playoff drought?
Odds to win AFC North: +515
Odds to win AFC: +1500
Odds to win Super Bowl: +3500
Key Additions: The Browns’ big addition in the off-season came with the 10th pick in the draft in OT Jedrick Wills, who will join an offensive line that struggled last season. The team traded for solid TE Austin Hooper and picked up Case Keenum to backup Mayfield.
Key Losses: The team lost one of their better players on defense in LB Joe Schobert and also lost LB Christian Kirksey and TE Demetrius Harris.
New head coach Kevin Stefanski and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt look to turn around an offense that only ranked 22nd in the league last season.
Much of that starts with Mayfield, who passed for over 3,800 yards with 22 TD but also had 21 INT. He could never get on the same page with Odell Beckham Jr, but the star WR still had 1,035 receiving yards last season.
Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry (1,174 receiving yards last season) could be one of the better WR duos in the league but Mayfield has to be more consistent.
He also needs better help from the o-line, which gave up 40 sacks last season, which is why they drafted Willis with the 10th pick.
Van Pelt has already worked with Mayfield on his footwork and the QB has also slimmed down. Look for the Browns to use more play-action and lean on the run more this season with Stefanski taking over the team.
He was the offensive coordinator for the Vikings last season and it looks as of Cleveland will run that type of offense where the 37-year old enjoyed solid success.
The big bright spot for the Browns last season was the play of RB Nick Chubb, who ranked second in the league last season in rushing yards.
The Browns were a pass-happy team last season even with Chubb and if he can have another solid season and Mayfield can bounce back Cleveland has a legit chance to make the post-season.
The Browns’ defense was decent against the pass last season but struggled against the run. The team did not make any big off-season additions on the defensive side of the ball in the off-season, but it will help to have Myles Garrett back, who was suspended for much of last season.
The schedule is not a killer one for the Browns but not a cakewalk either. They start off with a tough game at Baltimore, but their next two games are at home facing the Bengals and Redskins, who were the worst two teams in the league last season.
Prediction: Can Mayfield have a bounce-back season? Can the team rally around Stefanski, who is the third Browns head coach in the last four seasons?
Big questions for sure, but I think Cleveland will put it together with the talent they have on the field and while they may not win the AFC North battling with the Ravens they will win at least 10 games and make the playoffs.