Cleveland OH- What’s new the first time in what seems like forever, the Browns are NOT the topic around the NFL. With division rivals Baltimore in a standoff with their QB Lamar Jackson, all the headlines have been dedicated to that situation. With the Browns not having a top pick in the upcoming draft, and seemingly set at QB, there is no need to be heavily invested in who the top prospects are. It puts me as a fan in a very weird position. I don’t know how to feel about the offseason. Sure, the Browns have made moves, and I actually believe the moves have been great moves. But the Browns are “flying under the radar,” and…. it’s a weird place.
Off season moves
The Browns have made moves in coaching and free agent signings. Out is DC Joe Woods, in comes Jim Schwartz. Out goes special teams coach Mike Priefer, in comes Bubba Ventrone. Both expected to give the Browns a jolt. Schwartz is an experienced DC, with cache across the league. The defense was a disappointment last year, and the addition of Schwartz comes with a high level of praise as he was the top target, and the Browns went out and got him. Ventrone, a former special teams player here in Cleveland comes with excitement. In the “He gets us” press conference, Ventrone stole the show and became an instant fan favorite as he is the total opposite of Head Coach Kevin Stefanski as he is very personable and fiery.
With getting what many consider to be an upgrade in the coaching rooms, the Browns also plugged some holes on the roster. In comes an influx of talent at positions of need. The Browns added DT Dalvin Tomlinson, S Juan Thornhill, and DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. They resigned Ethan Pocic, and Sione Takitaki. They traded for Elijah Moore. With a defense that cost games, getting upgrades along with a new DC, the defense should be much improved. On the offensive side, the offensive line struggled once Pocic went down to injury. Pocic came into last season as the backup and ended up starting and being one of the best centers in the league. Getting him back, will bring stability to the offensive line and help shore up what should be a top part of the unit.
Focus on quarterback
With the Browns, it all comes down to how well Deshaun Watson plays. If he regains form the Browns will have a chance to be really good. But what if he’s average? That is the question that no one knows and cannot say. The goal, and the hope is that he will be back to his normal self after playing 6 games last year. Let’s be clear. None of this works without him being good. The Browns have invested a much talked about $230M into Watson and were in year 2 of the investment. If Watson can be the answer to the franchises 20-year QB drought, then the Browns and the fans will be extremely happy. If not….. well, it will be more of the same. The same as it has been the last 23 years.
Personally, I think Watson will be fine. Was he great in the six games he played last year? No. Did he do anything in those six games to make me know, or feel comfortable going into next year? Also, no. The uncertainty of it all is maybe why the Browns have flown under the radar. This summer so far has been so quiet for the Browns in a good way, it’s difficult to really know what to do next. The Browns have been a mess, but now it seems they are figuring things out. Which feels new. There has been no turmoil, no stories, no major scandals. It’s just been a regular offseason. If the Browns can capitalize on a quiet off season, and win, and this can become the new normal…. I won’t be upset. And neither will the fans.
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