Not the ‘same old Cleveland Browns’ offseason

CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 17: Head coach Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns talks with Baker Mayfield #6 during the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 17, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 17: Head coach Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns talks with Baker Mayfield #6 during the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 17, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns did not reach the ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl this season, but the team had nothing to hang their heads about. Normally, this is the time of year where fans speculate on who will be the next general manager, head coach, or if the team will finally draft a franchise quarterback.

This isn’t going to be the same old Browns offseason as the team has stability.

Cleveland has been yearning for a franchise quarterback since the return of the franchise in 1999. Usually the Browns draft in the top-five picks of the draft, and for years, the pick wasn’t the right one. In 2018, the Browns drafted Baker Mayfield and in 2021, it appears that Mayfield could very well be that quarterback of the future.

Coming into the 2020 season, there were a lot of question marks and doubts surrounding the former No. 1 overall pick due to a poor sophomore season. Even early in the 2020 season, many in the national media were questioning whether or not the Browns should throw in the towel on Mayfield.

Well, Mayfield took a huge step forward, proving those doubters wrong and that he is the franchise quarterback of the Browns.

In his third season, under his fourth head coach and offensive coordinator in his first three seasons, Mayfield threw for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns, eight interceptions while completing 62.8 percent of his passes with a QBR of 72.4. Last season he threw for 22 touchdowns, but 21 interceptions as well.  He made a lot of big-time throws and helped lead the Browns to the playoffs for the first time in 18 years.

Not only did Mayfield lead the team to the playoffs, he led them to the franchise’s first playoff win in 26-years, on the road in Pittsburgh, which also snapped a 17-game losing streak at Heinz Field. If you are still questioning whether or not Mayfield is Cleveland’s guy, go back and watch the game film from Week 1 to the Divisional Round of the playoffs. He made huge strides this season and the best it yet to come.

Speaking of the head coach, Kevin Stefanski did an incredible job in his first season as an NFL head coach. The Browns finished 11-5 and made the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. The team had a winning season for the first time since 2007.

Let’s rewind for a minute. 2020 was the most trying year for everyone due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. This certainly made things interesting for the NFL. The offseason was essentially all virtual, with team meetings being held via Zoom.

So here is Stefanski, a first-time head coach in the NFL, implementing a new system and a new mentality for the Browns, with all of it being done virtually. That is no easy feat and one that should not be looked over years down the road.

Stefanski and the Browns dealt with a plethora of injuries this season, including losing star wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr., for the season due to a torn ACL. Running back Nick Chubb missed a month of action due to injury, yet Stefanski and his coaching staff had his team ready to play every week.

On top of the injuries, Stefanski and company dealt with the COVID-19 issues. The team facility was shut down for days at a time, the team played a game without any starting wide receivers, and Stefanski himself missed the playoff game in Pittsburgh after testing positive a week prior. Yet despite all of that, the Browns were a play or two away from playing in the AFC Championship game.

When speaking about Mayfield in Monday’s press conference, Stefanski said “Baker and I met today and I can tell you that he’s very excited to not have to learn a new offense.”

That part is going to be key for the Browns moving forward.

Stefanski should no doubt be the NFL Coach of the Year.

Andrew Berry became the youngest general manager at the time of his hire last January, at the age of 32. He is also the executive vice president of football operations. He is considered one of the best minds in the game today.

In his first draft, Berry did a pretty solid job addressing some of the Browns’ needs. He drafted left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. out of Alabama with the 10th overall pick with the hopes Wills could fill the void left behind by Joe Thomas in 2017. Berry went and drafted safety Grant Delpit in the second round out of LSU, but Delpit missed the entire season due to an Achilles injury. In the third round, he drafted defensive end Jordan Elliot (Missouri) and linebacker Jacob Phillips (LSU). In the fourth round, he selected the Mackey Award winner (college football’s top tight end) Harrison Bryant (Florida Atlantic). Center Nick Harris (5th round, Washington) and wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones (6th round, Michigan) wrapped up Berry’s first draft as GM.

He attempted to sure up the defense via free agency by signing cornerbacks Kevin Johnson (missed season due to lacerated liver) and Terrance Mitchell, strong safety Karl Joseph, and B.J. Goodson among others.

This season, he will have plenty of draft capital and money to improve the defense, most importantly getting faster on the defensive side of the ball.

Next. Browns mock draft nets WR. dark

The team is in great hands with Mayfield, Stefanski, and Berry leading the way.

This will not the same old Browns offseason.