Writer: Mike Lukas
Offensive player I’m most excited to see: Todd Haley, Offensive Coordinator
Nope, I didn’t misunderstand the question, and fine, Haley’s not a player, but it’s his sweet moves – his potential power, speed, and agility – I’m totally looking forward to watching this NFL season.
After all, Haley’s the guy who’s promised to fix the Browns 24th ranked offense that only scored a league-worst 14.6 points per game last season.
Power: Are Haley’s coordinating skills strong enough to build and implement the type of offense he’s promised – one built around the players’ specific skill sets instead of forcing “square pegs in round holes” like his predecessor was accused of doing?
Speed: Will Haley’s training camp methods work quickly enough to teach this new offensive playbook effectively before the season starts? And teach the Browns how to hang onto the ball and score if and when they find themselves in the Red Zone?
Agility: Will his weekly game plans be nimble enough to allow quarterback Tyrod Taylor (and eventually Baker Mayfield) to quickly and cleverly utilize the vast arsenal of offensive weapons Cleveland now possesses? To lithely balance between the Browns three-headed run game (Hyde/Johnson/Chubb) and their nasty, five-headed receiving monster (Landry/Gordon/Callaway/Njoku/Johnson)?
Defensive player I’m most excited to see: Myles Garrett, Defensive End
This is an easy one – All-Rookie Garrett only played 10 of 16 games last season due to injury (ankle, concussion) and yet this defensive prodigy still posted 28 combined tackles (16 solo), 7 sacks, one pass defended and one fumble recovered. Those 7 sacks led the team, by the way.
Now imagine what this over-sized quarterback-seeking-missile is going to do with the extra few seconds he’ll start to have with the addition of some first-rate cornerbacks who’ll be shutting down the opponents’ passing game.
With first-round draft pick Denzel Ward, free agents T.J. Carrie and E.J. Gaines plus newly acquired free safety Damarious Randall now in the Browns secondary (and strong safety Jabrill Peppers finally playing in the box), there’s no telling what kind of colossal numbers a healthy, 16-game-playing Garrett will put up in 2018.