Browns News NFL: The Cleveland Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor expected to be the starting quarterback in week 1.



Cleveland Browns 2018 Season Preview




Chris Ransom follow @DraftUtopia Posted on 8/1/2018.


Cleveland Browns Free Agency Recap


John Dorsey went out and got Tyrod Taylor via trade. He also extended Jarvis Landry who played for the Miami Dolphins last season after getting him in a trade. Cleveland got E.J. Gaines from Buffalo, but that was not a Free Agent move that wowed me. Running back Carlos Hyde is someone who could have an impact in Cleveland, but he's also someone with a lot of durability concerns so that signing could end up being a disaster. Cleveland also traded Danny Shelton to New England for a future draft pick. Cleveland made some good moves in Free Agency, but also some incredible risky gambits as well.



Cleveland Browns Draft Recap


Cleveland selected Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield at 1 and Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward at 4. They had two top 5 picks. If they hit on both this team will be competitive again as early as this season. If they miss on these picks the way they missed on Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel back in 2014, then the Browns will continue to be the biggest joke in the AFC North since the Montreal Alloutes starting quarterback, who ironically is Manziel, who will be making his first CFL start this Friday.


Back to Cleveland's draft. This is a team that got some solid day 2 players like Nevada offensive lineman Austin Corbett and Georgia running back Nick Chubb.


After the first two rounds, Clevleand didn't land any gems. I like Genard Avery out of Memphis. The other picks they made were reaches. Chad Thomas is strictly for depth despite being a third round pick. Dorsey drafted him as insurance for Ogbah. Antonio Callaway also drafted for depth even though he's capable of pushing Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman for that number two spot next to Jarvis Landry with his explosive speed.


Cleveland's 2018 draft comes down to whether Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, Austin Corbett, and Nick Chubb pan out. The Browns could have had Sam Darnold, Bradley Chubb, Connor Williams, Derrius Guice, and Isaac Yiadom out of Boston College as their cornerback over someone like Chad Thomas.


Cleveland could have done better with wide receiver depth. Instead of going with DaeShon Hamilton in the fourth round and Auden Tate in the sixth round, the Browns went with Antonio Callaway in the fourth round and Damion Ratley in the sixth round. This roster has a lot of talent, but that kind of decision making is what will end up keeping the Browns from making the NFL Playoffs this season.


Memphis linebacker Genard Avery was the only day 3 pick I liked. I thought Cleveland botched this draft after the first two rounds to be completely honest. As unconventional as Cleveland's draft was, it could pay off if Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, Austin Corbett, and Nick Chubb end up panning out and Dorsey hits on all four of those picks long-term. That's what the Browns 2018 NFL Draft comes down to entirely.




Cleveland Browns Quarterback Summary: Unlike last year, when we had a quarterback competition. We know Tyrod Taylor is starting week 1. There is that sense of certainty there. Baker Mayfield should end up being the backup quarterback with Drew Stanton being a third stringer. Last year Cleveland was playing musical chairs with Cody Kessler, Brock Osweiler, and DeShone Freaking Kizer. None of those scrubs are starting for the Browns and rightfuly so after this team went 0-16 a year ago.


Hue Jackson retained his job despite a 1-31 record as the Browns head coach during his last two seasons. However, he did relinquish offensive coordinator duties over to Todd Haley who was Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator. Haley will improve this offense. Will he improve it enough for Clevleand to supplant Pittsburgh right out of the gate? Probably not, even though I believe Clevland can take over this division in the future.


Quarterbacks coach Kevin Zampese was a great quarterbacks coach in Cincinnati. He was an awful offensive coordinator. With Zampese working under Head Coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley it feels like the Clevleand Browns finally have stability at the quarterback position for the first time in years from both a players standpoint and a coaching standpoint.


Cleveland Browns Running Back Summary: Cleveland has incredible depth at running back with Carlos Hyde, Nick Chubb, and Duke Johnson. Cleveland also has running back coach Freddie Kitchens who overcame cancer and knows how to rally a team. Kitchens is a players coach and as the associate head coach of the Browns, Kitchens would take over as interim head coach if Hue Jackson gets fired.


Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Summary: Cleveland brought in Jarvis Landry to be the teams flanker receiver. Josh Gordon is finally back and is the number two target. Corey Coleman is the slot. I don't like the rookies the Browns drafted so there is a lack of depth at wide receiver if anything happens to Landry, Gordon, or Coleman. That's the most concerning area of the Browns offense at this point.


Adam Henry did a good job as the New York Giants wide receivers coach in 2016 when he had Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shephard at full health. New York's wide receivers dealt with injuries last season and Henry got punished for that because the Giants fired him and their new regime wanted their own guy. Cleveland made an awesome hire in Henry. If any of Cleveland's day 3 rookies break out it will be due to Henry's coaching period.


Cleveland Browns Tight End Summary: Tight ends coach Greg Seamon did well coaching up David Njoku as a rookie. Many expect Njoku to be a breakout player on the Browns with more experience and some stability at quarterback.


Cleveland Browns Offensive Line Summary: Clevleand does not have the offensive tackle depth they had last year which is alarming to a point. Joe Thomas retired and now you have four scrubs competing for two offensive tackle spots with Shon Coleman, Chris Hubbard, Spencer Drango, and Greg Robinson competing for the left tackle job. I agree with Joe Thomas on his assessment that putting Corbett at left tackle would be a bad idea for Cleveland.


Cleveland has a lot of depth at offensive tackle. They lack the star power of a franchise blue chip left tackle. The person who steps in for Joe Thomas isn't going to have the same impact on Cleveland that Thomas did. That is the one thing keeping this offense from putting up 30 points a week on a weekly basis. Cleveland can average 20-28 points per game, but that will be their ceiling due to the current situation at offensive tackle.


Cleveland has a lot of depth at offensive tackle. They lack the star power of a franchise blue chip left tackle. The person who steps in for Joe Thomas isn't going to have the same impact on Cleveland that Thomas did. That is the one thing keeping this offense from putting up 30 points a week on a weekly basis. Cleveland can average 20-28 points per game, but that will be their ceiling due to the current situation at offensive tackle despite having a ton of depth.


The interior offensive line is the strength of the Browns. You got Joel Bitonio at left guard, J.C. Tretter at center, and Kevin Zeitler at right guard. This is a very strong interior offensive line. Cleveland can run the football 20-25 times per game and set up a balanced run first offense with this unit that way there isn't so much pressure on Tyrod Taylor or Baker Mayfield to have to do everything on every single down. That's why I think Cleveland's offense can have some success in 2018 because you have that foundation and stability in place at a lot of positions offensively.


Bob Wylie did a lot better with this offensive line last season then I expected him too. Wylie helped Cleveland block effectively at times even without Joe Thomas. He's the only coach along with Hue Jackson who was retained following the 0-16 season last year. There is a reason Wylie is still around.


With Cleveland, I'm expecting a middle of the pack offense. I'm expecting a team that is around the mid to late teens in points per game, total yards per game, and passing yards per game. I think Cleveland is a team that could be a top 10 team in rushing yards if they play to their strengths and build their offense around the running game first. Again this is assuming, Cleveland plays to their strengths by getting the most out of their offense.



Cleveland Browns Defensive Line Summary: Myles Garrett will play 4-3 right end with Emmanuel Ogbah complimenting him at 4-3 left end. Larry Ogunjobi will start at one defensive tackle spot. The other spot will be up for competition with Trevon Coley and Caleb Brantley pushing each other for that job.


I expected Clyde Simmons to do well as the Browns defensive line coach last season. He retained his job strictly due to the amount of injuries Cleveland had defensively last season. Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah are both capable of getting 10+ sacks. If they both exceed 10 sacks the Browns can win up to 8 or 9 games.


Cleveland Browns Linebacker Summary: The Cleveland Browns have Joe Schobert, Christian Kirksey, and Jamie Collins at linebacker. All three are interchangable plug-in-play linebackers. You can line one up one up at 4-3 right outside linebacker, 4-3 middle linebacker, or 4-3 left outside linebacker. These are Cleveland's three best linebackers and the Browns know this.


Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams specializes in coaching linebackers mainly, but he's great with managing a front 7. He will have this entire front 7 blitzing and stopping the run. Linebackers coach Blake Williams returned to Cleveland for his second season just like defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.


Cleveland Browns Defensive Backs Summary: The Browns weakness, has to be the secondary. Denzel Ward is the field cornerback replacing Joe Haden and E.J. Gaines is the boundary cornerback taking over for Jason McCourty. T.J. Carrie takes over for Jamar Taylor at the nickel. Briean Boddy-Calhoun remains in the dime.


I feel like Cleveland downgraded at all of their cornerback spots. At the same time, they got some reliable safeties in Jabrill Peppers at strong safety and Damarious Randall at free safety.


Howard Wilson was the teams quarter cornerback. He got placed on injured reserve for the second year in a row though.


I doubt someone as aggressive as Gregg Williams calls plays out of a quarter package. The only coordinators that use quarter packages in today's NFL are guys who have experience as defensive backs coaches. Williams is a front 7 guy so he'd use 4 corners and a dime package at the very most.


Cleveland Browns defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker is good. He was the defensive backs coach for 4 years in Jacksonville and had a top 5 pass defense with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. Walker didn't have that success in Cleveland. He did well enough to retain his job. If he wants to be a future defensive coordinator, Walker has to coach up this inexperienced Browns' secondary and help Cleveland take that next step this season.


The Browns were a mess on both sides of the ball in 2016. On offense they were 31st in points per game scoring 16.5 points per game after scoring 17 points per game prior to Hugh Jackson's arrival. Cleveland was 30th in total yards per game after being 25th before Jackson. Cleveland was 28th in passing yards under Jackson after being 21st in passing yards per game. The only area Cleveland improved in on offense was in the running game which went from 22nd to 19th. Jackson specialized in improving the passing game while Kirby Wilson did an incredible job coordinating the running game which at one point was first in the NFL heading into week 4.


Cleveland was a bottom feeder on defense. This was due to injuries though. The Browns finally have a front 7 that could emerge into a top 10 unit in both sacks and run defense. They also have a defense that can limit opponents from 25.6 points allowed to 20 points per game. If the secondary plays well this defense can go from 25.6 points per game to 13 points per game. That's the kind of impact this defense can have if the secondary steps up since that's the biggest question mark.


Cleveland has to win the turnover battle in order to win games. Cleveland lost the turnover battle on so many occassions last year and this was a large reason they went 0-16 despite causing a lot of turnovers. This was due to Kizer, but the Browns won't have that issue this season which is why fans expect a lot more from this team and rightfully so.



Cleveland Browns Special Teams Summary: Cleveland has Zane Gonzalez and Britton Colquitt back. Cleveland will also use Jabrill Peppers more on special teams as a punt returner and kick returner. They may use Matt Dayes as a kick returner if he makes the Browns final roster, but if he doesn't I'm expecting Peppers to return both punts and kicks.


Amos Jones is the new special teams coordinator for the Browns. He was on the Arizona Cardinals until 2017 just like Freddie Kitchens.




Cleveland Browns Worst Case Scenario: Last year, I said 4-12 was the worst case scenario and the Browns went 0-16. This team is 1-31 in the last two seasons and they should win at least 2 games with all the talent they acquired even if their draft picks do not pan out.


Cleveland Browns Best Case Scenario: Cleveland goes 9-7. They have a winning record, but do not take that next step and make the 2019 NFL Playoffs.


Cleveland Browns 2018 NFL Schedule


Week
Date
Opponent
Time
Cable Network
Result
Week 1
September 9
VS
1 PM EST
CBS
L
Week 2
September 16
AT
1 PM EST
CBS
L
Week 3
September 20
VS
8:20 PM EST
CBS
W
Week 4
September 30
AT
4:05 PM EST
CBS
L
Week 5
October 7
VS
1 PM EST
CBS
L
Week 6
October 14
VS
1 PM EST
CBS
L
Week 7
October 21
AT
1 PM EST
FOX
W
Week 8
October 28
AT
1 PM EST
CBS
L
Week 9
November 4
VS
1 PM EST
CBS
W
Week 10
November 11
VS
1 PM EST
FOX
L
Week 11
Bye Week
Week 12
November 25
AT
1 PM EST
CBS
W
Week 13
December 2
AT
1 PM EST
CBS
L
Week 14
December 9
VS
1 EST
FOX
L
Week 15
December 15
AT
4:30 PM EST
NFL Network
W
Week 16
December 23
VS
1 PM EST
CBS
W
Week 17
December 30
AT
1 PM EST
CBS
L


Cleveland Browns 2018 Projected Record (6-10): Cleveland is going through a rebuild still. However this team, has much more stability then the 0-16 Cleveland Browns. That team had no stability at quarterback, Joe Thomas on injured reserve, and a barrage of injuries defensively that kept them from making the playoffs.


Cleveland has an easier strength of schedule too. I think they go 6-10 this year due to that schedule. Then in 2019, Baker Mayfield will take over as the starter and become the quarterback the Browns thought he would be when they drafted him first overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.


Cleveland has a lot of talent to compete long-term. They will put things together though once Baker Mayfield wins the starting job and once the team moves on from Hue Jackson assuming they go 6-10 because their is enough talent on this roster for Cleveland to win 8 or 9 games at the moment. With a better coach, the potential to push every other AFC North team is there down the road. That potential is not there now, but this is a team that is built to compete long-term so as long as the Browns continue their long-term approach they should be competitive long-term.









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