As teams get mathematically eliminated from the NFL playoffs, we’ll give you a jump on their offseason by examining what went right, what went wrong, and what needs to change before next season.
Amazingly enough, it took until the Browns’ 11th straight loss to start the season to be eliminated from the NFL playoffs. All that’s left for the Browns is avoiding an 0-16 season, and clinching the No. 1 overall pick for the second straight year. The San Francisco 49ers are also in the mix for the first pick, and every other team is at least two wins ahead of the Browns.
What went right: You have to squint hard, but there are positive signs. The defense improved. Rookies, like defensive end Myles Garrett, safety Jabrill Peppers, tight end David Njoku and quarterback DeShone Kizer, all had a few moments. Garrett in particular has looked good, with five sacks in six games. He just needs to stay healthy.
What went wrong: How long do you have? The offense has been a nightmare. The coaching staff looks completely overmatched. Although Kizer makes plays here and there, the Browns are no closer to finding a franchise quarterback, and are reminded constantly that they traded picks that became Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson. They’re 1-26 under Hue Jackson. Nothing more needs to be said.
Will the coach be back?: Look at that record again. It’s hard to justify bringing back a coach who is careening toward a 1-31 run. Too often the Browns have looked like the NFL’s clown car. A time management debacle at the end of the first half against the Detroit Lions, in which they tried quarterback sneaking from 2 yards out with about 15 seconds left and then couldn’t get off another snap before the half was over. epitomized how unprepared this team looks week after week. The Browns need continuity, but do you have any confidence anymore that Hue Jackson is the right man to turn this franchise around?
Do they have a quarterback?: Not yet. Kizer has a good skill set, but he hasn’t shown enough that you pass on a quarterback with the first pick next year. USC’s Sam Darnold has extended an olive branch to the Browns. They need to quit overthinking this and just take a top quarterback (I’m sorry Sam, your career deserves better).
Quick free agent fix: The Browns need to invest in a top cornerback or two. They still have more than $100 million in projected cap space, according to Spotrac. Perhaps they need to overpay someone like Los Angeles Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who can become a free agent. The Browns’ defense is improving, but needs a bit more on the outside to really make it click.
Quick draft fix: Although the Browns probably regret passing on Deshaun Watson, the 2018 first-round pick they got from the Houston Texans looks like it will be a top-10 pick. The Browns have an extra first-round pick, two extra second-round picks and extra picks in the fourth and fifth. Now they just need to turn those picks into some Pro Bowl players. Quarterback is the first priority, then maybe a top corner with that Texans pick. But they’re going to add to their roster depth, for sure.
Give it to me straight, can my team make the playoffs in 2018?: LOL.
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