The Cleveland Browns opened 2019 among the favorites to win the Super Bowl but did not remotely live up to expectations. The team added a ton of talent on the offensive end over the offseason by trading for Odell Beckham Jr. and signing the highly-controversial Kareem Hunt. But that hasn’t translated into success. More must be done for the team to maximize its potential.
Baker Mayfield had a phenomenal rookie year in which he broke the rookie passing touchdown record, throwing for 27 in 13 starts. But he’s taken a step back with more weapons at his disposal. Mayfield is to blame for some of his inconsistency, but there are other factors to consider as well.
The Browns have dynamic receivers out wide, a solid tight end, and an elite one-two punch in the backfield with Nick Chubb and Hunt. However, the offensive line has been a huge weakness for the team, especially at the tackle spots. Greg Robinson has failed to become a staple up front during his trial run at left tackle and is entering unrestricted free agency while right tackle Chris Hubbard has also struggled. If possible, both need to be replaced via the draft or free agency. Poor run and pass blocking give the running backs little room to operate and reduce Mayfield’s time to look down the field and make the show-stopping plays that put him on the map.
Another issue that must be addressed is on the defensive line. Cleveland is one of the better teams in the NFL against the pass but has been horrendous against the run. Only the Panthers and Bengals have given up more yards on the ground this year. Run stoppers paired with Myles Garrett up front would make the Browns more well rounded.
The 2019 NFL season is coming to a close and while the playoffs are just arriving, it’s time to start looking ahead to 2020. We won’t know the full regular season schedule until April, but even with the 2019 season not finished, we know each team’s list of opponents. The NFL has a formula they use to determine opponents, with divisions and conferences rotating each year.
The Browns face their divisional opponents a total of six times. The AFC North faces the AFC South, which adds four more opponents. The AFC North faces the NFC East, which adds four more opponents. The final two opponents are the teams that finish in the same standing position in the AFC West and AFC East.