Browns get slammed in NFL tier ranking from Touchdown Wire

The Cleveland Browns weren’t painted in a good light in a recent NFL ranking from USA Today’s Touchdown Wire.
Cleveland Browns, Deshaun Watson
Cleveland Browns, Deshaun Watson / Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK

Despite winning 11 games in 2023, the Cleveland Browns aren’t feeling the love heading into the new year. Their expected win total comes in at 8.5, due partly to a tough schedule but also a lack of faith in their quarterback, Deshaun Watson.

We can add Jarrett Bailey of USA Today’s Touchdown Wire to the list of doubters, as he put Cleveland near the bottom in his recent NFL ranking.

Bailey broke down each team into tiers, starting with “Tier 1: The Chiefs,” and going to “Tier 7: Good luck in 2025.” Thankfully, the Browns aren’t one of the franchises needing to look ahead to next year but they didn’t fare much better. Bailey placed them in “Tier 5: Shoulder Shrug.” As is often the case with those who doubt this team, his issue was Deshaun Watson — who he says makes them worse by returning.

“The Browns are getting their starting quarterback back off injury, and it makes them worse. Watson hasn’t been good in four years. Will something magically return and have him looking like the 202 Deshaun Watson? I’m going to play it safe and say probably not. Their defense will be awesome, but the lack of a good quarterback makes them very unpredictable.” — Bailey, Touchdown Wire

Technically, the Browns were 5-1 when Watson started last year but he only threw five passes in one of those wins. That means he was truly 4-1, which is the same record Joe Flacco had. Watson also led Cleveland to a signature win over the Baltimore Ravens in his last outing, putting up elite numbers in the second half despite having a shoulder injury and high ankle sprain.

Still, there are reasons for concern surrounding Watson. He’s been wildly inconsistent since joining the Browns and cost them the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2 by throwing a pick-six and giving up another defensive touchdown when he fumbled the ball late in the game.

Even with his struggles, the Browns have no choice but to stick with Watson and hope he bounces back. As Bailey said, it’s been a long time which makes it tough to see a change coming, but perhaps that Baltimore game was a sign of things to come.

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