How the point differential will change in 2021
Whenever the Browns have upgraded a position, and we project the player will be an every-down player, that translates to fewer points allowed. In the case of Jadeveon Clowney, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that most of us believe that he is a better player than Olivier Vernon, but he may not be used as part of a rotation, with Porter Gustin and Takk McKinley also receiving significant game snaps. So if you project Clowney to play in 60% of the snaps, that takes his effect on the point spread down.
Tactically, the Browns defensive line is going to play better if opposing offensive linemen have to contend with a variety of styles and moves from multiple talented players rather than just one guy to key on. To use an analogy for those who have fought in martial arts tournaments, it is way different Tae Kwon Do specialist for a round and then a Kung Fu player the next round and a Karate expert the round after that. Some of these moves are going to score.
Another comment is that, yes Andrew Sendejo gave up a few points last season, but he was never supposed to lead Browns safeties in minutes played. He was supposed to be the extra safety, and in that role, he would have been very good. But he had to be the starting free safety in place of Grant Delpit.
There was no choice, because the kid had a ruptured Achilles tendon, and there was no way to prepare for it. Sendejo was not treated fairly by the fans. If you want to boo, boo Delpit’s Achilles tendon, which is the real reason Sendejo had to start. In any case, current projections are that John Johnson is going to be a massive upgrade. So is Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah.
This analyst is very hopeful, but not moving the spread for comebacking Grant Delpit or Greedy Williams. We don’t know how good they will be post-injury, or how much they will be able to play. If they are average players this season that is pretty good. If they take the field, that is pretty good. Hence I’m not putting in big numbers one way or other yet, but that could change once they get some game action and prove they are sound.
delta change from 2020
Clowney in for Vernon -10 -7
JJohnson in for Sendejo -10 -20
G Newsome in for K Johnson -3 -11
Togiai in for Richardson 3 0
Billings in for Ogunjobi 3 -9
Walker in for Wilson 3 -2
JOK in for Karl Joseph 0 -6
Hill in for Mitchell -3 -5
McKinley in for Clayborn -3 -9
Tony Fields for Tae Davis 0 1
Total Impact -68 points
If this were accurate (it would the first time I ever got anything right, by the way, so please don’t bet on it!), the Browns go from the 22nd ranked defense in the NFL to about the 12th ranked defense. Cleveland would average 22.8 points per game, or 364 points for the regular season.
So that’s my answer; it looks like the Browns have the personnel to become about the 12th best defense in the NFL this season and perhaps better. If the offense shows similar improvement, they will contend for the AFC North Division championship again this season.
This, of course, is just based on the talent on the field. It says nothing about coaching, game plans, matchups, or any of that. It’s just putting a numerical basis to the optimism that analysts have for the Browns this year.
But do you know what? From the fan’s perspective, it really should not matter. Nobody should decide to be a Browns fan based on how many games analysts believe they might win in 2021, or at least, that is not the kind of Browns fan — or any football fan — I want to hang out with. I didn’t much care when the numbers said that the Browns were a 4-12 team.
All 32 teams are currently undefeated, and on any given Sunday they have a chance to win if they hustle and have a good game plan. That’s why they play the games. I find it interesting to study how they put the team together and I hope you do too. But that is not why I am a fan.
Once the bell rings, it’s going all be out the window, and winners and losers will be determined on the playing field.
Next week, we will break down the Browns offense. To make a long story short, you may feel that the team is full of superstars at every position, but the numbers say that in 2020 they were only slightly above average. How can that be?