Football

Who Let the Dawgs Out

Browns
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) rushes during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

If you have this song stuck in your head now, I’ve already done my job. But since I have your attention, let’s talk about the Cleveland Browns. Head Coach Kevin Stefanski and GM Andrew Berry have done a remarkable job of building this team back up. What can you expect from the Cleveland Browns this year? Let’s break it down.

Fetch Boys

The Browns will have some options when it comes to who gets the ball. Baker Mayfield has really done well in this type of offense. We’ll see if he gets some more passing opportunities this year. When teams start focusing in on Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the secondary may get caught napping. Chubb and Hunt split time but Chubb is the top back. Hunt is the better pass catcher of the two. They are both equally good as power runners. Time to give the fullback some love, Andy Janovich as a lead blocker helps create some very important holes and wear the defense down. The most underrated position on the field in the ever-changing passing league.

The hope is that Odell Beckham Jr will be ready to go and stay healthy throughout the season. I don’t feel Jarvis Landry will be as effective and that’s not meant to be knock. I like him a lot and he’s been huge for that culture they are growing. But him and OBJ are 28 years old. Odell has a better chance of staying effective due to sheer athleticism and being on the outside. Landry is a slot receiver and those guys don’t always age well. There is a chance that due to the run heavy nature of the offense, there may not be as much pressure on them.

The #3 receiver spot is wide open. Rashard Higgins overall has done well and has good speed. Donovan Peoples-Jones also took advantage of his opportunities as a rookie and will get some consideration. Anthony Schwartz was taken in the third round out of Auburn and was the fastest receiver in the draft. Seventh round UCLA product Demetric Felton was a pass catching back for the Bruins. As he makes the transition to an NFl receiver, he is a dark horse candidate to become a factor in the offense and return game.

The tight end position has not always got a lot of production in this offense. Austin Hooper did his job when we needed to and averaged 9.5 yard per reception. However, he only had 435 yards and four touchdowns. Harrison Bryant and David Njoku didn’t do any better only coming up with 238 and 213 yards respectively. Bryant had three touchdowns as a rookie while Njoku had two. Njoku has also requested a trade the last two seasons.

The Best Line in Football

Part of their success was having an amazing offensive line. From left to right Jedrick Wills Jr, Joel Bitonio, JC Tretter, Wyatt Teller, and Jack Conklin. Wills was a first round pick from Alabama. Conklin came over from Tennessee and was worth every penny. Fourth round pick from Cincinnati James Hudson is listed as the backup to Conklin. The Browns need to be aware that Bitonio and Tretter are 29 and 30 respectively and that regression and injury could strike at any point. Cleveland’s immediate depth at the position is mostly young.

Turn The Dawgs Loose

The defense did some good things despite having injuries, but it was in need of improvement. Myles Garrett of course is still the left end in what as of right now looks like 4-3 front. Andrew Billings and Malik Jackson will be in the middle. The addition of Jackson was not a smart one. He’s 31 and coming off a disappointing tenure with the Eagles that included a liz frank injury in his foot. At one point those were career ending.

If Jackson begins to struggle, fourth round rookie Tommy Togiai from Ohio State will step in. Until he earns the starting job, he will rotate in as a subpackage player and whenever else needed. Jadeveon Clowney is not giving up yet despite an injury riddled career. He will try to make an impact at right end while fending off former first round pick Takk McKinley. McKinley was a picked by the Falcons after their super bowl trip and has been a disappointment so far. However, he could also be used as a rotational player if he can get back on track. Otherwise, he’ll get buried on the depth chart.

The second round selection is an absolute steal. Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramorah will be the starting weak side linebacker for the team he grew up rotting for. Sione Takitaki is the best name in football and really excelled in 2020. He will start on the strong side. Free agent addition Anthony Walker is currently the middle linebacker since Mack Wilson has not been performing well despite trying hard. Jacob Phillips and former super bowl MVP Malcolm Smith are long shots to break through the starting lineup as of right now. Tony Phillips, who is a rookie fifth round pick from West Virginia is in the same situation.

There are some questions in the secondary since some injured players are coming back. Denzel Ward is a no brainer as the top corner. Troy Hill came over from the Rams along with free safety John Johnson in what were pretty surprising moves. Former second round pick Greedy Williams is right behind Ward. Grant Delpit missed his rookie year and is currently behind Johnson. It looks like Sheldrick Redwine is sticking around for now but he has been a massive disappointment as he sits as the third string FS. Ronnie Harrison Jr is the projected starting strong safety with not much competition behind him. Richard LeCounte will have a lot of work to do to just become his backup as a rookie fifth round pick from Georgia. It will be a hard division to win, but the Cleveland Browns are in prime position to make some noise.

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  1. Pingback: NFL Week 1 "Triple S" - Championship Sports Media

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