2019 record: 6-10
Key losses: LB Joe Schobert, S Damorious Randall
2019 was supposed to be the Cleveland Browns year, but fate had other plans as the supposed “best team in the AFC North” slumped to a sub-.500 season for the twelfth year in a row. Much of the blame fell on head coach Freddie Kitchens’s shoulders and he was subsequently fired for his team’s failures. The Browns shortcomings were hardly one person’s fault, however.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield completely flopped after a solid rookie season, barely throwing more touchdowns (22) than interceptions (21) and dropped from a 63.8% completion rate as a rookie to 59.4% in 2019. Mayfield managed this with Pro Bowl talents in the forms of Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry at wide receiver and Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt at running back. Entering 2020, Mayfield has zero excuses to perform poorly once again.
Mayfield should be ecstatic for this upcoming season, however, after the team brought back all four of the aforementioned playmakers while also bringing in Pro Bowl tight end Austin Hooper and nabbing bookend tackles via Free Agency and the 2020 NFL Draft. The offense should be one of the NFL’s best.
The defense is a bit, well, lackluster compared to the offense. Myles Garrett is an annual Defensive Player of the Year candidate, but he can’t do it alone. Cleveland is banking on a rebound season from Denzel Ward and progression from Greedy Williams in year two to make the secondary a competent one. Incoming rookie safety Grant Delpit will also be looking to prove his doubters wrong after falling to the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
All in all, this Cleveland Browns team is flawed but also very exciting. They should compete for a .500 record at worst and make some noise in the AFC North. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Cleveland win four-or-more AFC North matchups if they can play to their potential.
Verdict: Gotta hit on all the potential