Cleat Geeks

Are The Browns Now Taylor Made?

For over a decade, the Cleveland Browns have defined mediocrity in the form of football. Optimism roots solely from perennial early round draft picks and quarterback experiments, considering Cleveland hasn’t experienced a winning season since 2007. After an 0-16 finish in 2017, it seems as if the losing trend will continue throughout the future, leaving this playoff deprived fan base hopeless. However, an eventful off-season filled with notable acquisitions has generated a slight glimmer of hope. I have a message for those who follow Cleveland Browns football.

Dear Cleveland fans, don’t get your hopes up.

Image result for tyrod taylor browns

Photo by; EA Sports

So far this off-season, the Browns have made a significant effort to improve their offense. The offensive unit struggled throughout much of last season, finishing 24th in total offense and 32nd in points per game, averaging a mediocre 14.6 PTS/G. On March 14th, the Browns drew major attention acquiring quarterback Tyrod Taylor from the Buffalo Bills via trade. On the same day, the Browns also acquired wide-out Jarvis Landry from the Miami Dolphins, who led the NFL in receptions in 2017 (112). A day later, the Browns addressed their need for a running back, acquiring tailback Carlos Hyde from the San Francisco 49ers. Hyde ran for 938 yards and 8 TD’s in 2017. One month later, Cleveland added another quarterback, selecting 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. This particular move drew some skepticism, but Mayfield did in fact accumulate 4,627 passing yards with 43 TD’s and 6 INT’s last season at Oklahoma.

Evidently, the Browns made blockbuster moves throughout the duration of the off-season. Trust me though, I advise you to not buy into the hype just yet.

In 2017, the Browns lost 7 out of 16 games by a single-digit deficit. Close marginals of losses can be an effect of many things. A hard-fought loss is typically a result of poor play-calling, missed field goals, or an ineffective late game drive. I think it’d be fair to say the Browns have been haunted by all three.

Tyrod Taylor’s ability to protect the football, remain efficient, and be mobile in the pocket should help Cleveland’s offense tremendously. However, Taylor isn’t known to be a clutch play-maker in crucial situations. This could be detrimental to Cleveland in close games. According to Pro Football Reference, Tyrod Taylor only has 5 game-winning drives throughout his career. Former Cleveland Browns quarterbacks Josh McCown (7) and Brian Hoyer (6) both have more.

Image result for hue jackson cleveland browns

Photo by: Factory of Sadness

The Browns decided to bring back head coach Hue Jackson for a third consecutive season. Jackson is 1-31 in his first two seasons with the team. The narrative tends to be it’s the players’ fault when the concept of winning is non-existent, but to some extent the coaching staff needs to be held responsible.  

Many argue that the Browns have lacked talent throughout recent years, which is accurate in some aspects. However, Cleveland’s defensive unit finished 14th in total defense in 2017, 7th in rush defense. Statistically speaking, a team with a mid-level defense that is positioned in the upper tier of league should be capable of winning at least one game. Defensively, the pieces are there, but it appears as if Jackson and the rest of the coaching staff aren’t tailoring their scheme to fit the abilities of their players. Coaching adjustments need to be made to enhance player performance.

Overall, the Cleveland Browns are a good team on paper. The defense is headed in the right direction, depth was added to the run game, and the Browns paired Landry alongside Josh Gordon, which could end up being one of the top receiving duos in the league. Most importantly, the acquisition of a Pro-Bowl quarterback (yes, Taylor made the Pro Bowl in 2015) should help the development of Mayfield, who the Browns have invested their future in. Fans shouldn’t get too excited though, as this year proves to be an experimental year.  Expect the Browns to continue to struggle in close game situations and continue to expect questionable play-calling. Until some changes are made on the sideline and in the coaching box, don’t expect a winning culture to just appear in Cleveland.

Aiming for 5-6 wins this upcoming season would be a fair expectation/goal for Cleveland fans. Improvement is existent, yet the playoffs are still a long shot (and let’s not even entertain the thought of a Super Bowl). Cleveland, I encourage you to remain positive and optimistic. Winning awaits you in the future, but just be patient and don’t get too ahead of yourselves.

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