Daniel Corrigan| January 11th, 2020
With the additions of Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon, and new head coach, Freddie Kitchens, the Browns came into 2019 with high expectations. Well, everything possible went wrong. Bad playcalling, horrendous offensive-line play, and some drama inside the locker-room led to a 6-10 record and a third-place AFC finish.
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What Went Right
The running game was the biggest bright-spot for this team. Nick Chubb finished the season with 1,494 yards rushing with eight touchdowns. Chubb was the main force in a two-headed monster that included himself and Kareem Hunt. While Hunt missed the first eight games of the season due to a suspension, he was able to open up the offense a lot more.
When at full-force, the defensive line is among the best in the league. But injuries to Vernon and the predicament that Myles Garrett got into cost them that dominating pass-rush.
What Went Wrong
Pretty much everything. You have to start with the regression of Baker Mayfield. He finished the season with 22 TDs and 21 INTs on 3,827 yards passing. Mayfield failed to find any chemistry with Beckham which has led to some trade rumors for the super-star receiver.
Kitchens was absolutely horrendous as head coach. Just no sense for the flow of the game. Holding out Rashard Higgins all year for no reason, horrendous situational awareness, he was just not prepared.
Another thing is this team just thrived off controversy. It all started when Garrett tried killing someone on Thursday Night Football. Then Beckham reportedly requested a trade, then Jermaine Whitehead threatened to hurt a Browns media member on twitter right after a loss to the Broncos.
Outlook for the Offseason
The Browns and general manager John Dorsey agreed to part ways this offseason. With the firing of Kitchens, they are now also looking for a head coach. The reports say that it is down between Josh McDaniels and Kevin Stefanski for the coaching job. As of me typing this sentence, there has been very little news on any general manager candidates.
Obviously, the biggest news will be if they trade Beckham. He came out and said he does not want to leave, but reports are coming left and right that he wants out. Personally, I don’t believe it. I think he wants to stay with his best friend Jarvis Landry.
With over $50 million in cap space, they have the ability to re-sign Hunt, Joe Schobert, and Damarious Randall. They can also go out and look for some offensive line help in free agency with their money.
The Team’s Free Agents
The Browns have some key players that will be UFA this spring. Randall, Schobert, Higgins, and Greg Robinson being the biggest. Hunt will be an RFA.
It is sounding like Schobert will not get the offer he wants from the Browns and they will let him walk. Randall might not want back after an outspoken season. Hunt is a wildcard to comeback. He will be the RB2 here and might get big money on another team, but the Browns have the ability to bring him back if they please.
I think the Browns will retain Higgins, Robinson, Hunt and Eric Murray. Schobert and Randall are going to be bigger-money names and the Browns just don’t want to shell out that type of cash.
Open Market Free Agents
Anthony Castonzo– The Browns need some help at tackle. With Costanzo being the best on the open market, I would assume they would make a run at him.
Jack Conklin– Same thing as above, they need tackle help.
Tre Boston– With Randall most likely leaving, they will be looking for safety help. There are better players at the position on the open market, but I love Boston a lot and he is young enough to fit right into this core’s window.
Vonn Bell– Another player that I love with the same promise as Boston.
Blake Martinez– If you are really looking to replace Shobert, Martinez could be the guy. They are both 26 but Martinez would be cheaper.
Projecting the NFL Draft
Round 1 Pick 10: Target- OL, S
Round 2 Pick 41: Target-S, DT
Round 3 Pick 74: Target- LB, OT, S, DT
Round 3 Pick 91: Target- DE, DT, OL, LB
The Browns are pretty much set at the skill positions. It is all about the offensive line and secondary help this draft/offseason.
It comes down to leadership. This team has championship-caliber talent but had horrible leadership last season. I think it depends on if the Ravens regress if this team has a shot at the AFC North crown. I think they will be much better next year. I expect a big bounce-back season from Mayfield and the Browns will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Questions and comments?
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Main Credit Image:Embed from Getty Images