In this series, we will look at some of the worst teams in the league and figure out a way to turn them around in the next couple of years to make them contenders in the NFL.
The Cleveland Browns have many holes on both sides of the ball and have quite a bit to do if they ever want to become relevant. They rank 31st in offense and defense for points and yards. They have trouble stopping the run and are below average against the pass. When they are passing, they are pretty bad and their rushing stats are below average as well. A lot of this is talent related and need to bring in some new talent to help turn this ship around.
The biggest problems on offense are at quarterback and offensive line. They used five different quarterbacks this season, mostly because of injury, but Cody Kessler has shown flashes of being a capable NFL quarterback, completing 65.6 percent of his passes for nearly 1,400 yards. The only bright spot on their offensive line is their left tackle, Joe Thomas. Thomas might be the best tackle in football, but that doesn’t mean anything when the rest of the line is so bad. The two bright spots on the offense are at receiver and running back. Corey Coleman looked really good before going down with an injury to start the season and Terrelle Pryor became a legitimate weapon on offense. Their running backs aren’t great, but they aren’t the reason this team is so bad. Duke Johnson Jr., Isaiah Crowell and newly acquired Darius Jackson are all adequate and are good players to have around going forward.
The defense has problems outside of Jamie Collins, Emmanuel Ogbah and Joe Haden, when healthy. They only have 22 sacks on the season through sixteen games and fourteen turnovers. That doesn’t do a whole lot to help them win games. Jamie Collins has had the third most sacks for this team with two and he only played in seven games. Rookie Emmanuel Ogbah has had the most sacks this season with five and a half and could be something in the coming years if this team can ever figure out a way to turn this defense around. They need to figure out a way to get more pressure on opposing offenses and force them to turn the ball over and the best way to do that is through the draft.
They will also have the number twelve pick from their trade last year with the Philadelphia Eagles. With this pick, they should take the best player available that isn’t a wide receiver or running back. It is unlikely that one of the top three quarterbacks will be there, but there should be some talent that could also help the defense in addition to Garrett. Malik McDowell, Marlon Humphrey, Teez Tabor, Malik Hooker or Jamal Adams should be there and each of them would be an instant upgrade for the Cleveland Browns. Then with their two second round picks, they should look for some talent for the offensive line if it is available. There should be some talent in both of those spots, especially at pick 33, and should be able to help protect their quarterback.
They shouldn’t change up the coaching staff. Hue Jackson is a good coach and just hasn’t had the talent to get the job done. He is a good communicator and despite their record, his players still play hard for him. There aren’t many coaches that would be able to do that or win any more games with the team that is currently assembled. He should be given at least two more years to turn things around, even if they don’t win another game until 2018.
The biggest question about this team after all of this is what they should do about their quarterback. There are a couple of options in free agency and in the draft, but if they pick Garrett, then it is unlikely that a top quarterback in this draft will be available by the time that they pick again. Their team should be built so that any quarterback that comes in has a chance to be successful. They need to build their offensive line and develop their weapons or else their new quarterback will just get killed and won’t be able to develop. If they can build a situation like the one Dallas did for Dak Prescott, then they have a better chance of being successful. Maybe Cody Kessler can take a step up going into his sophomore season, especially if he is given a little bit more time and a defense that gives him a shorter field to play with. If he is not, then the Browns should have another top pick in 2018 and should be able to make a move to get one of the top quarterbacks in that draft class.
This offseason should really lay the foundation of the Cleveland Browns team and with the availability of top talent in the draft, they could turn things around quicker than most would expect. They probably won’t be playoff team next year, but if they make smart moves and don’t give away all of their best players, then they should be contenders in two or three years.