Cleveland Browns: Why Jarvis Landry might remain with team in 2022

Dec 6, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) celebrates after a touchdown reception from Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (80) during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 6, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) celebrates after a touchdown reception from Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (80) during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cleveland Browns
Oct 7, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (80) points to the fans as he walks off the field following the overtime win against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /

Did Jarvis Landry “change the culture” of the 2018 Browns?

Wind the clock back to 2018. Remember that the culture of the Browns was 0-17 under Huggin’ Hue Jackson, with Bud Light taunting the Browns with free beer locked in a Victory Fridge cooler that would not open until they won a game.

Let’s imagine some parallel universe in which John Dorsey failed to land Jarvis Landry. In the parallel universe, the Browns stayed under their 2018 cap allowance but were stuck with a lousy wide receiver corps. Their best wideout was Josh Gordon, who was going to check back into rehab any minute; rookie Antonio Callaway, who was not far behind Gordon; and Rashard Higgins, who was an improving possession-type receiver.

The rest of the wide receiver corps was filled out by speedy but erratic Damion Ratley and rookie free agent Derrick Willies. Running back Duke Johnson was used in the slot frequently. Johnson was always unhappy about his lack of playing time. This writer had advocated making that the slot main position, and without Landry, he might have been the starter there. He wasn’t quite good enough to get starting snaps over veteran Carlos Hyde and some rookie named Nick Chubb, that’s for sure.

The last wide receiver cut in training camp was a converted quarterback named Blake Jackson, who never amounted to anything. He would have occupied Landry’s roster spot.

The Browns tied the Steelers in the opening game in our universe, despite seven sacks of Tyrod Taylor. Landry had 106 receiving yards in that game. The next best wide receiver was Rashard Higgins with 38. In the parallel universe, without Landry, does anybody think that the Browns would have been in that game? Let’s mark that as a loss instead of a tie. The losing streak goes to 18 games.

Would the Browns have beaten the Jets without Landry in Week 3? Let’s look at the stat line. Landry first of all threw a two-point conversion pass to Baker Mayfield and contributed eight catches for 103 yards. The next best wide receiver was Rashard Higgins again, with three grabs for 32 yards.

Antonio Callaway contributed four catches in 11 targets for 20 yards. No, the losing streak would have gone to 20 games, with very little doubt. Baker Mayfield would not have won the starting job coming in for an injured Tyrod Taylor that day but not having a legitimate wide receiver target to throw to.

In our historical timeline, the Browns pulled off an overtime win versus Baltimore in Week 5, thanks to a partially blocked field goal by Greg Joseph that just barely made it over the crossbar. Could this have happened without Landry? In that game, he again led Browns’ wide receivers, but this time with a more modest total of 69 yards.

Higgins had 66 yards and Derrick Willies had 61 yards. It doesn’t seem reasonable that they could have won a game of inches without Landry’s 69 yards, That would have pushed the Browns’ loss streak to 0-22 and the Bud Light Freezer would still have been locked.

The first time the Browns won a game without a major contribution from Landry was on Week 10, when the Browns prevailed over Atlanta, by 28-16, with only 22 yards from Landry. It seems reasonable to believe they could have won without him that day. After 26 straight losses, the streak is finally over and the Bud Light freezers are unlocked.

They probably could have beaten Cincinnati twice that season and could have escaped Carolina, who they beat by six points. They probably would have finished 4-12, going 4-3 for the last seven games after an 0-9 start. Hue Jackson still would have gotten fired at midseason, but there is a big difference between a surging 7-8-1 team and a 4-12 team.

No winning culture in 2019, but there was some good and bad there. In reality, what happened was that in addition to energizing the fan base, John Dorsey caught Freddie Fever, a disease that is at least as bad as Covi-19.

It was determined that Freddie Kitchens was the one man who could propel Baker Mayfield to greatness, and everyone who had been loyal to coach Hue Jackson was fired. Truthfully, they wanted to burn them at the stake, but that is illegal, so they settled for simply terminating their employment with the Browns.

Dorsey overspent the salary cap by over $20 million dollars for the Super Bowl run that never happened, assembled as many veteran free agents as he could, and traded away the first-round draft pick in order to bring in high-priced Odell Beckham, Jr.

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Perhaps a 4-12 Browns team drafting about fifth overall, with a more modest payroll in 2019 might not have been completely terrible. The Super Bowl run should have come in 2020. That’s when they could have outspent the rest of the NFL and added about four Pro Bowl players and made their run.