The biggest turnaround in professional sports…that’s what people inside the Browns are saying regarding their 2018 comeback campaign. Well, it certainly will be if they can make themselves a playoff contender, but is that realistic?
Reasons to be cheerful?
The first reason to be cheerful is that 2017 is officially consigned to the history books. A year of utter abject misery should be locked away and never forced upon anyone again. The Browns have acknowledged the dross and moved in both the draft and free agency to address the huge problems they face.
Baker Mayfield (No.1 overall pick) is the story, but Tyrod Taylor is the man (for now). 51 TDs and 16 INTs during his 3 year starting spell at Buffalo have proven the Tyrod is a worthy QB in the league who can maintain possession and manage a game successfully. His rushing ability (14 Rush TDs in those 3 seasons) was key to the Bills returning to playoff relevance. Don’t be so keen to throw Baker into the NFL fire when you already have a guy with a winning mentality and the talent to back that up.
Josh Gordon is back in camp, healthy, happy and desperate to get back on the field and prove that he really has left his past in the past. 2013 seems along time ago, that is the last time Gordon was a factor for the Browns with 1646 yards and 9 scores. If he can put up 800-1000 yards and half a dozen TDs then you can consider his return a success. Hes a top 5 receiver who needs the right environment to keep him on the field. Add into the mix Jarvis Landry (most receptions by a receiver in their first 3 years in the league) and the WR lineup looks as if it will be giving opposing defences a hard time all year long.
TE David Njoku is a stud-in-waiting with massive redzone potential. He should lead this team in TD catches.
Myles Garrett is fit and looking to start all 16 games this year. In preseason he’s been a force of nature, collapsing pockets and sacking QB s for fun. In the defensive backfield No.4 pick Denzel Ward and last years first 25th pick Jabrill Peppers are going to be a pass-play stopping combo with big-play ability. Expect plenty of picks, and a couple of defensive scores from this pair.
Reasons to be fearful?
The AFC North is a crowded place.
WR depth behind Gordon and Landry is weak.
No, the thing to fear is HUE JACKSON IS STILL COACHING THIS TEAM! The guy is 1-31 over the last 2 years, he ruined DeShone Kizer (last years face of the franchise elect) and he doesn’t even appear to be the best coach in the building. The inside-scoop provided by “Hard Knocks” has shown us all the O.C Todd Haley is clearly a better coach with huge respect amongst the staff and a no-nonsense approach that is sadly lacking in Jackson. Yes, he is a nice guy, well liked and popular with his team and front office but that doesn’t translate into wins. Bill Belichick is never described as popular or well liked,, he is ruthless, savage, demanding and driven by success.
How does the season shape up?
Not as good as the talent on the team deserves. Jackson will eventually lose his job but it’ll be too late for this season to be a good one.
Playoffs? No, but not having the no.1 pick for the first time in 3 years will be a small victory. Expect the odd upset but the ship hasn’t been righted yet.