3 areas Browns must improve to make another playoff run

Where do the Browns need to improve in 2024 to make a postseason run?
Cleveland Browns
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The Cleveland Browns had a very emotional, and electrifying season in which the defense, led by Myles Garrett, established themselves as a dominant unit and posted a historical first half of the football season. Comparatively, the coaching staff, led by Kevin Stefanski, proved their versatility and abilities with an evolving door at quarterback. In fact, Cleveland was the first team in NFL History to enter the playoffs with wins from four different starting quarterbacks.

Garrett (NFL Defensive Player of the Year) and Stefanski (Coach of the Year) were awarded for their success during the 2023 NFL Honors Awards last January. The fact remains; the AFC is loaded with talent, and the offseason only further validated that.

For this piece, let's assume Andrew Berry and company will find a way to appeal to Amari Cooper and his camp; if not, a whole new issue will arrive for Cleveland's offense. If the Browns wish to return to the postseason they need to evolve in three specific areas; QB play, takeaways, and competing on the road.

1. Quarterback Play

Let's begin with the most obvious; the quarterback. Yes, they have Deshaun Watson back. Yes, like the savior Joe Flacco, he was also 4-1 during the 2023 season (technically 5-1 but one of those truly belonged to P.J. Walker). No, this is not a session aimed at bashing his potential.

In fact, after the Baltimore game last year, I was extremely excited to see what he could accomplish for the remainder of the season. It seemed like during that game, Watson was finally putting everything together, against a top-tier defense which was what he was lacking prior.

He showed flashes, sure, but it was against subpar teams for the most part. The game against Baltimore wasn't statistically pretty by Watson, but he continuously fought back and made excellent plays with his arm and feet.

The issue isn't with Watson's play at this point, because I believe he can bounce back and play at least well enough that the defense can carry this team to a championship. It's the availability; he's only played in 12 games in the last three years and a few of those games he didn't play in its entirety. Cleveland brought in Jameis Winston and Tyler Huntley as insurance in the event Watson goes down, but with the contract and the expectations, the Browns QB1 needs a full season under his belt if Cleveland wants a shot at the postseason.

2. Forcing Turnovers

It's difficult to critique the NFL's best defense and in all fairness, Cleveland was top five in interceptions during the 2023 season with 18, but it's more about the forced fumbles Cleveland should improve upon. Cleveland was ranked 16th in the league in forced fumbles last year.

A major part of that was due to Myles Garrett's lack of production at the tail of the season which saw him acquire only one sack in the final six games. While he was playing through an injury, the rest of the team needed to step up and get to the ball, and it wasn't happening.

It seems like every time the opposing team touches the Browns QB the ball goes on the ground, so, the defense needs to take the cue from the opposing teams. That being said, for all you Browns fans looking for a new game to play while you're watching at home, take a drink of your favorite "beverage" every time Greg Newsome swats a ball down he easily could have picked. You can play the same game every time he showboats in the camera for an overthrown ball.

3. Playing on the road

This one is very statistically backed and must be an immediate improvement if Cleveland wants a return to the postseason. Dominating at home is great and all, and who knows maybe it will be enough to spark a playoff berth; but, with the talent and competition in the AFC North, it's anyone's guess who will win the division.

This means if Cleveland plays as well on the road in 2024 as they did last season, it will be another disappointing postseason run for a team with unlimited potential. The Browns went 11-6 last season, however, five of their losses occurred on the road while only two wins contributed to their total.

Now, factor in the fact that Cleveland was blown out on the road against Houston, and I'm sure we all understand the issue. By playing better on the road, Cleveland has a greater opportunity at home games during the postseason. Even if they don't, we can all watch more comfortably knowing the team will not completely lose their identity and crumble.

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