It’s never too early to start thinking about NFL football right? Fellow CST writer Jacob Carrick and I discuss some of the X-Factors that Browns fans should be looking towards.
Jacob Carrick – Will the brand new offense take shape early?
The Browns have many new faces on the offense for this upcoming season, including a rookie QB and TE, two offensive line upgrades and a veteran WR. With this comes the departure of other integral parts of the offense from last season, such as Terrelle Pryor, Gary Barnidge and RG3. While it’s hard to imagine that the offense would struggle any more than they did last year, any team with so many replacements is likely in need for a chemistry-building season. If the new core can bond together quickly and rack up touchdowns consistently, the Browns will have a chance to win any game.
Kyle Shuki – How does the 2016 draft class perform in ’17?
Last year’s draft class was underwhelming to many Browns fans. The issue with the picks was that the front office chose to go with quantity over quality. For example, they selected three wide receivers in the 4th round and later. Why did they not move up into the second and take a productive college player such as New Orleans’ (and former Buckeye) Michael Thomas? Some rookies were not totally unproductive last year, but they need to take a big step forward in their progression. Players like Corey Coleman, Carl Nassib, Seth Devalve, Cody Kessler and Derrick Kindred need to improve to show that last year’s class was not a total bust. But if they can produce, this team will be a promising one.
JC – Can Isaiah Crowell become a reliable #1 option at RB for the entire football season?
After the first half of last season, the answer to this question could very well have been yes. But once the Browns offensive line seemed to remember how thin it was, Crowell’s running path shrank substantially, resulting in many sub-par performances by him to end the season. Duke Johnson was on the field for more and more snaps and increasingly shared rushes with Crowell as the season progressed. With Crowell set to be the primary RB to start the new season, the Browns need him to maintain the effectiveness he had early last season and the strengthened o-line will help him do that.
KS – Can we finally get to the quarterback this season?
Besides quarterback, the pass rush has been one of the most disappointing aspects of the Browns since ’99. Fortunately for this year, there is hope that the pass rush will be productive. Of course when you add Myles Garrett to your team, getting to the quarterback will be much easier. Or will it? One negative to Garrett’s game was that he under-performed against better competition. What if offensive tackles can hold Garrett in check for the early part of the season and he loses confidence? This leaves the responsibility on the rest of the defensive line to produce – which is filled with many other young players. The pass rush will depend on Garrett and he will have to live up to the hype.
JC -Will the Browns learn how to tackle?
This question is a bit of an exaggeration, but whenever you are watching the Browns, don’t you sometimes find yourself screaming at the television for someone to tackle the RB or WR? If you have, then this question shouldn’t come as a joke for you because the Browns do need to work on their tackling. The Browns have been among the worst run defenders in the NFL for several years and their secondary play is also weakening every year. The additions of Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, and Jason McCourty will hopefully improve tackling on both sectors of the defense.
KS – Can we win in the division this year?
This problem has haunted the Browns for the longest of time. Fortunately, the division is the weakest it has been in years. The Bengals took a major step back, the Ravens are aging at important positions and the Steelers did not do too much to improve their average defense.
It would be nice to see the Browns go .500 or even better but that seems like a stretch. Playing the Steelers week one will be tough, especially considering how young of a team we are. Playing them in Week 16, when they are fighting for playoff positioning will be just as challenging. Going to Baltimore and Cincinnati hasn’t been a walk in the park either. If Hue Jackson can get this team to win the home games versus divisional teams, that would be a major step forward for this team.
What are your X-Factors? Let us know!
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