The Cleveland Browns were touted for much-awaited success in 2019, after monumental trades and switches in the coaching staff. Expected to even lead the AFC North, they finished the season 6-10. A big failure in the grand scheme of things. It’s 2020, and no one dares place any high expectations on them. However, there are five factors that could ensure Cleveland Browns success in 2020 – and they can do it flying under the radar.
Five Factors That Could Ensure Cleveland Browns Success in 2020
A New and Better Head Coach
There have been 11 head coaches in Cleveland since 1999. Each one was never quite right for the job – to put it mildly. Bring in Kevin Stefanski, an offensive genius from the Minnesota Vikings. The Browns had their eye on him for some time. He brought out the best of the offense in Minnesota and their unit was very similar to that in Cleveland; a potential top-15 quarterback, two standout receivers with superb depth supporting them, a tight end who’s a red-zone specialist. Stefanski built his Vikings offense around Dalvin Cook. The Browns clearly need an offense that centers around Nick Chubb. Stefanski’s aim is to strengthen play-action passes by forcing opposing defenses to wait on the run.
Baker Mayfield Making a Strong Comeback
Baker Mayfield has talent. He has the hallmarks of a great quarterback. But he didn’t display any of that in his second year with the team. Even with Odell Beckham Jr. as his number one receiver, he simply could not make the throws he did in his rookie year. According to Nick Villano of Fansided, Mayfield’s decline in 2019 was due to lack of time to throw, as compared to his rookie year. The Browns have ensured he has better protection, with the addition of Jack Conklin and drafting Jedrick Wills Jr. in the first round. Mayfield rolls out of the pocket and extends plays, and he’ll be able to do all that much better now.
Having Elite Skill Players
The AFC North has some of the best talent at skill positions. The Baltimore Ravens have Mark Ingram and Mark Andrews. The Pittsburgh Steelers have Juju Smith-Schuster and James Conner. The Cincinnati Bengals have Joe Mixon, A.J. Green, John Ross, and rookie Tee Higgins.
The Browns have Chubb, one of the best running backs right now. He can carry the offense with ease. Backing him is Kareem Hunt, who has plenty left to offer. Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, and Rashard Higgins, plus Austin Hooper will make for a potentially epic pass-catching group. Last season, Chubb and Hunt weren’t utilized in the correct manner. Expect them to be in 2020.
An Improved Defense
Myles Garrett’s suspension ended earlier than expected. That means one of the league’s best pass rushers is back in Cleveland’s line-up, and ready to do some real damage to opposing teams. Olivier Vernon is expected to bounce back this season, after injuries in 2019 held him back. Greedy Williams didn’t have an ideal rookie campaign, but schematic changes will enable him to show what he’s truly made of. The Browns defense is certainly not the best in the AFC North but has enough talent in the mix to really improve.
No More Hype
2020 may be a year where the Browns can quietly do their work and get further than they have before. No one is expecting them to get to the playoffs. There is no more media hype surrounding them, and they only have two nationally televised games – one on Thursday night in September and one on Monday night in December. All they have to do is keep their heads down and focus on the game. And maybe then, they will have some real success.