Friday, May 24, 2024

Cleveland Browns Season Preview

No team comes into 2019 more over-hyped than the Cleveland Browns. After drafting Baker Mayfield with the number one pick in the 2018 draft, the Browns finally managed to win multiple games in a season for the first time since 2015.

Things started off in very Browns fashion with a tie against the Steelers, and a loss to the Saints. In the third game, Tyrod Taylor left the field, and rookie sensation Baker Mayfield took the field and led the Browns to their first win since 2016.

However, despite massive improvements offensively at times, putting up 42 points against the Raiders, the Browns continued to find ways to lose. Reaching the mid-point of the season at just 2-5-1 was the final straw for the Browns brass as they finally relieved Hue Jackson of his duties. With just 3 wins in 40 games, it could be argued he should’ve gone much earlier.

Under interim head coach Greg Williams, and interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, the Browns went on a bit of a tear, finishing the season with five wins in their final eight games. Flirting with a winning record, the Browns are a team that appears to be on the up. The Browns ended the season with the 20th ranked scoring offense, and the 21st ranked defense.

Coaching Moves

Freddie Kitchens – Head Coach

Last seasons interim OC has been given the hot seat, thanks in large part to the stellar play of Baker Mayfield under his tutelage. It remains to be seen whether the first-time head coach has what it takes after such a short spell as OC, and an equally brief spell as associate head coach under Hue Jackson.

Todd Monken – Offensive Coordinator 

Monken joins from the Buccaneers where he served as their OC in a disappointing 2018 campaign. He has limited coordinator experience in the NFL but has served as wide receivers coach with both the Buccs and Jaguars, as well as numerous college teams spanning nearly 30 years.

Steve Wilks – Defensive Coordinator

Steve Wilks comes to the role of DC after a disastrous spell as Arizona Cardinals Head Coach. He has a long history in the NFL in multiple defensive roles for the Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, and San Diego Chargers. It remains to be seen if the removal of Gregg Williams was the right decision, but Wilks definitely has an excellent opportunity to rebuild some of his reputation.

Mike Priefer-  Special Teams Coordinator

Priefer slides into the role of special teams coordinator, a role he has filled for the last 8 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. Prior to that, he was with the Broncos in the same role, and an assistant with the Jaguars, Giants, and Chiefs.

Off-season Acquisitions

The Browns of late haven’t been setting the benchmark for good seasons very high. Each off-season, however, they generate good buzz with their drafting. This offseason has been a little more explosive as Cleveland pulled off one of the biggest trades in recent memory.

Odell Beckham Jr

The trade for Odell Beckham Jr has seemingly elevated an already improving unit up to the next level. The Browns gave up quite the haul to land OBJ: a first-round pick, a third-rounder, and Jabrill Peppers, himself a former 1st round pick in 2017.

The move pairs Beckham Jr with his old college bestie Jarvis Landry. With Landry in the slot and OBJ wide, it could be a tandem made in heaven.

Olivier Vernon – DE

Now on the downside of his career, Vernon is still a notable pass rusher. While he doesn’t get to the quarterback as much as you would like, he is very disruptive and causes havoc along the line. Acquired via trade with the Giants for OL Kevin Zeitler.

Kareem Hunt – RB

A slightly surprising acquisition was that of former Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt. Facing an eight-game suspension for pushing and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel, Hunt’s signing seemed a little off-book for a team-building something special. While extremely physically talented, it will be interesting to see how the locker room is affected by his presence.

Garrett Gilbert – QB

Demetrius Hunt – RB

D’Ernest Johnson – RB

Eric Kush – G

Kendall Lamm – OT

Eric Murray – SS

Sheldon Richardson – DT

Jaelen Strong – WR

Adarius Taylor – LB

Bryan Witzmann – G

NFL Draft

246Greedy WilliamsCBLSU
380Sione TakitakiLBBYU
4119Sheldrick RedwineSMiami (FL)
5155Mack WilsonLBAlabama
5170Austin SeibertKOklahoma
6189Drew ForbesOTSoutheast Missouri State
7221Donnie Lewis Jr.CBTulane

Undrafted Free Agents

Ka’John ArmstrongOTEastern MichiganJune 6
Dorian BakerWRKentuckyMay 3
David BloughQBPurdueMay 3
Stephen CarlsonTEPrincetonMay 3
Lo FalemakaCUtahJuly 22
Brian FineanganofoOTIdaho StateMay 3
Jamie GillanPArkansas–Pine BluffMay 3
Darrin HallRBPittsburghMay 3
J.T. HassellSFlorida TechMay 3
D.J. MontgomeryWRAustin PeayMay 3
Jarrell OwensDEOklahoma StateMay 3
Jermaine PonderCBSaint FrancisMay 3
Wyatt RayDEBoston CollegeMay 3
Anthony StubbsLBPrairie View A&MMay 3
LJ ScottRBMichigan StateMay 13May 16
Trevon TateCMemphisMay 3May 28
Willie WrightCTulsaMay 3
Dedrick Young IILBNebraskaMay 3

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