Ideally, Cleveland Browns will play complementary football in 2020

CLEVELAND, OHIO - JANUARY 14: Kevin Stefanski talks to the media after being introduced as the Cleveland Browns new head coach on January 14, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - JANUARY 14: Kevin Stefanski talks to the media after being introduced as the Cleveland Browns new head coach on January 14, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

It’s not a certainty, but hopefully, the Cleveland Browns will play complementary football in 2020.

The Cleveland Browns were playing catch up too much in 2019. In too many instances, Cleveland, after starting well in the early stages of games, would fall behind.

It was often due to then-head coach Freddie Kitchens’ bonehead decision-making in terms of game/clock management, too.

Games against the Seattle Seahawks and at home versus the Baltimore Ravens in the last two minutes of the first half of those contests come to mind, when there were complete 180s, for instance.

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Looking at 2020 sans Kitchens/better play-calling and hopefully, game management with head coach Kevin Stefanski should lead to less of that sort of thing.

The defense shouldn’t be as gassed/ineffective as a result, either. That’s at least what Browns fans hope to see.

Moreover, the Cleveland Browns will ideally play complementary football in 2020.

In relation to Cleveland’s offense, one would hope Baker Mayfield has a resurgence this season after last season’s disappointment. That should prove to be the case, too.

Austin Hooper would seem to mesh perfectly with Mayfield in Stefanski’s tight end-friendly offense, and having David Njoku back healthy will be crucial, too. With upgrades at tackle in Jack Conklin and seemingly Jedrick Wills Jr. as well, Mayfield should also have more time to attack down the field via Odell Beckham Jr.

Jarvis Landry, who had 83 receptions and six touchdowns in 2019, will get his as well, and is the consummate chain-mover, and so should Kareem Hunt as a receiver out of the backfield. In eight games active in 2019, there were plenty of glimpses of that from Hunt, as he had 37 receptions, which resulted in 285 yards.

Next season, and even more so in the red zone, Hunt should feast as a mismatch player for Cleveland/Mayfield, as should Njoku/Hooper based on the attention Landry/Beckham will draw.

Along with that, with better offensive line play, the Browns should not be behind the sticks nearly as often. Better utilization of play-action, coupled with Nick Chubb, will ensure that.

There’s no reason Cleveland shouldn’t be a top 10 offense in terms of third-down conversation rate in 2020, frankly, with their o-line seemingly solidified, Chubb/Hunt and one of the best stables of pass-catchers in the NFL. Cleveland ranked just 20th in third-down efficiency in 2019, per The Football Database, but this year should be so much different.

Mayfield is going to be in Year 3, and hopefully, with better play-calling/light-years better game management, he’ll shine.

So one would imagine with an offense that’s much more reliable, Cleveland’s defense will be more effective/less out to dry.

Free-agent Andrew Billings should help considerably on early downs in the run game, and linebacker B.J. Goodson should have a positive impact in that regard, as should sure-tackling rookie Jacob Phillips, provided he gets the opportunities.

Most importantly, if the Cleveland Browns are able to be more competent in run defense (they were 30th last season), which would be aided by complementary offense, the pass rush should be more consistent.

Myles Garrett, hopefully Olivier Vernon, Chad Thomas, and Adrian Clayborn is a formidable defensive end rotation. If Cleveland’s pass rushers/defensive line is mostly fresh throughout games, also including Larry Ogunjobi/Sheldon Richardson, they’ll make a ton of plays.

Plus, the Cleveland Browns should be better off in the back end in relation to Greedy Williams hopefully showing growth/being in man coverage more, to go with Denzel Ward’s presence and talented rookie Grant Delpit as a Swiss Army-type safety.

That’s feasible with Karl Joseph, as the season progresses, operating closer to the line of scrimmage as a hybrid linebacker-type, too, as DPD’s Dan Justik suggested.

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Anyhow, it would appear that the Browns should have the pieces/coaching in place to play complementary football in 2020, ideally. It’ll show pretty early on whether or not that is ultimately the case, however.