Malik Jackson believes the Cleveland Browns can level up in 2021

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 03: Malik Jackson #97 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts against the Washington Football Team at Lincoln Financial Field on January 3, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 03: Malik Jackson #97 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts against the Washington Football Team at Lincoln Financial Field on January 3, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Malik Jackson has high expectations for the Cleveland Browns in 2021

The Cleveland Browns made their first postseason appearance in what seemed like forever last season, and had a satisfying Wild Card victory at the Pittsburgh Steelers. That was the first postseason W Cleveland’s had since back when Bill Belichick was their head coach, even, in the 1994 AFC Wild Card round.

The way things are shaping up, it appears that the Browns could be in for a better next campaign upcoming, too.

We’ll have to see as potential extensions for either Baker Mayfield or Nick Chubb and/or potential trades, but either way, the group looks loaded up for a deep run. And Cleveland’s offensive line solidified itself as one of the best units in the league in 2020.

Also in that realm, though we’ll have to see if Odell Beckham Jr. is eventually traded, he could still absolutely still make a difference for this club, and has been progressing in his recovery from a torn ACL.

It was a plus that Rashard Higgins re-signed via a team-friendly deal again for Mayfield, for further context, too. Higgins, who had career-bests in receiving yards (599) and yards per catch (16.2) has a great connection with Mayfield, and signal-callers had a 119.0 rating when targeting Higgins last season.

The other side of the ball is still where the most improvement needs to be for Cleveland next season, though. But the Browns, whose pass defense struggled throughout the year, looks to have been given quite the lift this free agency period, as they added John Johnson III and Troy Hill from the Los Angeles Rams.

Takkarist McKinley could be a meaningful contributor on the edge, as far as pass rush, too, albeit one would assume Cleveland still looks to address EDGE in the draft still. Or perhaps, as DPD’s Sam Penix has campaigned for, the Browns could end up adding Jadaveon Clowney, too, to see if he can have a bounce-back season after being hampered by injury with the Tennessee Titans in 2020.

And in terms of the interior, the likes of Malik Jackson should aid the Browns’ defensive efforts, particularly in the run game.

Plus, to some extent, while Jackson’s sack splits, which were 2.5 last season with the Philadelphia Eagles and 3.5 in 2018 with the Jacksonville Jaguars, aren’t high, he has been still able to aid in pushing the pocket and helping generate EDGE production. His 18 pressures as more so a rotational contributor with Philadelphia last season indicate that, too.

The likes of Sheldon Richardson, seemingly, and Andrew Billings, who will be with Cleveland after opting out last season (COVID-19 concerns) should help on the defensive interior as well. Larry Ogunjobi, meanwhile, has since signed with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Overall, it’s pretty clear that the Browns could really do something next season if they piece things together and stay reasonably healthy. And the aforementioned Jackson sees that possibility, too.

Jackson’s comments show how the Browns can truly level up in 2021.

Jackson, who was a recent signing via one-year deal by Cleveland, said the following in recent media availability about the Browns’ upcoming season, via Tom Withers of the Associated Press.

That praise from Jackson, who was previously a key cog and won a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos, speaks volumes about what this Cleveland Browns squad could become if they tie things together.

Granted, the AFC North is going to be very tough, as always, and with Joe Burrow set to be back and a likely increased number of weapons, the Cincinnati Bengals won’t be some pushover, either. And others, such as the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills, clearly, to go with the Titans, and one could foresee the Miami Dolphins, who were much-improved last season, will be tough AFC clubs who are capable of deep runs as well.

Albeit it is clear that Jackson foresees the Browns are being a team that’s fully capable of making a very deep run, and he’s setting the highest of expectations, as Withers relayed.

Now, as 2019 for the Browns showed, expectations are expectations/noise and they aren’t a prerequisite for results. That season, Cleveland flopped, as’s Nick Shook expressed.

Albeit as Shook also hit on, Jackson’s recent comments with the media about the Browns being a legit Super Bowl contender aren’t ones that are the most typical in the world, especially regarding the recent history for the Brownies since they’ve come back.

At any rate, hopefully, the Orange and Brown can stay reasonably healthy next season at the key spots, and that includes 2020 draft pick Grant Delpit, who missed last season with a torn Achilles. Delpit could be a difference-maker for Cleveland going forward if he can stay mostly healthy, and Ronnie Harrison with him and Johnson could make for quite the safety trio that’d get their chunk of snaps together, too.

Moreover, if the signings can pan out, which it’d seem they very well should, and Mayfield, head coach Kevin Stefanski and company keep it clicking with a balanced attack, a potential Super Bowl run doesn’t seem so far-fetched in 2021. Jackson seems on to something here.

As an added side note, hopefully, Jackson, while he’s not nearly what he once was early on, can stay mostly healthy as well, for what it’s worth. He missed nearly all of the 2019 season with a foot injury.

Next. Browns Top 15 All-Time first-round draft picks. dark

And one would assume the 31-year-old Jackson, who is a true believer in what the Browns have been doing, will be a key veteran leadership presence with his share of postseason experience as well.