By Callum Brady
The Clevland Browns as a franchise are amongst the worsed post-merger, they have had no playoff appearances since 2002 and a massive array of quarterbacks that have had very little success but there might be a light at the end of the long dark tunnel for browns fans. The browns hierarchy have managed to put together a solid team with lots of potential and some elite talent and in the 18/19 season where pegged as a dark horse but due to managerial issues, poor roster chemistry and a lack of quality performance from key positions the season ended in disappointment with a record of 6-10 missing the playoffs.
Going into this next season the management at different levels of the franchise has been addressed with the hiring of Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski as head coach and Andrew Berry as the new general manager and executive vice president of football operations for the Cleveland Browns but now it is down to the team to perform. Stefanski helped lead the Vikings on a good playoff run with an offensive core of Quarterback Kirk Cousins, wide receiver duo of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen and running back Dalvin Cook, Stefanski lead this offense to rank eighth in the league in points per game as well as being ranked sixth in the running game.
In regards to the receiving corps, the browns possess going into the 19/20 season it is amongst the most elite in the league with Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry as their key wideouts as well as Austin Hooper and David Njoku as their key tight ends. All of these players hold amounts of massive talent but the standout player and Baker Mayfield's number one target is Odell Beckham Jr (OBJ), he is a three time pro bowler and former rookie of the year. In terms of talent, OBJ in his early years had the potential to become the best ever but since then his career has derailed after a lack of opportunity to play at the top level but the former LSU player is known for his great route running, high level speed and the key weapon in his armory is his spectacular catching ability. If the Browns are going to push for the playoffs and more it is vitally important that OJB, as well as the rest of the receiving corps, need to step up and perform or the season will fizzle out like the previous one, Odell has commented on the upcoming season stating "I would honestly say this is probably going to be one of my best seasons," he said. "Bigger, stronger, faster—this is my time." and if this is true the browns faithful are in for a great season.
Another key piece to the puzzle that is the success of the browns is the most important position in the team, the quarterback. The Browns selected Baker Mayfield No. 1 overall in the 2018 draft and in his first year showed a lot of promise by setting a rookie record for most passing touchdowns with 27 therefore when OJB was added the following season there was big hope but in the 18/19 season Mayfield fell off a cliff, he failed to make the playoffs and along the way threw 21 interceptions and was 66.8% accurate in the 1-20 yard range which was worst in the league. However, there is still hope for Mayfield but this is a big season in terms of where his career will be heading and I think that for a number of reasons he can have a better season than in the last is firstly that he has shown the quality he possesses in his rookie year and browns fans might have to buy into the old proverb form is temporary, class permanent. Another reason is that his roster has been improved further, the O-line has been patched up with the drafting of Jedrick Wills Jr. with the No. 10 overall selection in the 2020 draft and Former Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Jack Conklin signed a three-year, $42 million contract with the Browns, on top of that Mayfield has had another strong weapon added to his arsenal in regards to Austin Hooper, who is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl years. My final reason is that i believe that Bake has been humbled in some way by his second year in the league and after his comments on what went wrong ("Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work. I think that’s exactly what it was with us. We had all the talent in the world, but didn’t put the work into it".) I do think that he will put more work in and with a year in his belt with his offence he will bounce back.
The final piece of the puzzle to talk about is the other key playmakers in the roster, it is obvious that if the quarterback and management dont do their jobs the team will not perform as well but for the team as a whole to achieve great things everyone must do their part and this is where the other key playmakers are important. The browns have a great running back pairing of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt who under Stefanski could be devastating if what he did with Dalvin Cook was any look at, Chubb last year ran for 1,498 yards which was second-best in the NFL, he also added 13 touchdowns on top of the yards. Another player who could have a big season, in my opinion, is the Browns defensive end, Myles Garrett, he was drafted first overall in the 2017 NFL Draft and is currently dealing with a suspension for his violent incident with Steelers QB Mason Rudolph during week 11 but it is being reported that he will be part of the team for the 2020 season, therefore, he will be a big factor. The pash rusher has 10 sacks in 10 games before his suspension and is said to be in a "good place" after his suspension according to Joe Woods, he is a dominant player with immense talent and I do believe he can have an all-world season if the browns are having a good season.
To conclude I do think that Browns fans should hold a lot of hope for next season due to all the points I have mentioned, this roster is the best in years and the players on that roster have the chance to step up and reach the playoffs for the first time in 17 years and think they will even if the media has turned against them a contending team. There are a lot of pieces that need to fall in place but that is how the NFL is, no one team can be 100% guaranteed sucess.