It is safe to assume that Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski has spent of lot of time reflecting on the successes and failures of the 2020 season.
He is a regimented and disciplined person so it is a good bet that he has drilled down to the key learnings gained from 2020 that can help the Browns in 2021.
Though I am not able to read Coach Stefanski’s mind, I am speculating that these three points could be on his list.
1. Start Strong
The Browns found themselves falling behind in games last season and having to do heroic things to get back in and attempt to win them in the second half.
The Week 1 game against the Baltimore Ravens is a perfect example.
By halftime, the Ravens were leading by a score of 24 to 6 so the game was already out of reach.
That Browns team with a brand new coach is not the same team that finished the 2020 season, but the takeaway still remains valid.
They fell behind the Pittsburgh Steelers in mid October by almost the identical score.
At halftime, it was 24 to 7.
Both games resulted in Browns’ losses.
THE ROOKIE DONOVAN PEOPLES-JONES GAME WINNER🔥
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 25, 2020
2. Win The Games They Are Supposed To
Nearly a year later, I am still mad that the Browns lost to the New York Jets and the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Jets game situation had significant COVID-19 issues so a lot of players were not available.
However, the Browns should have been able to still win the game against a team who had not won the entire season before beating Cleveland.
The 10-4 browns are playing the 1-13 Jets (not officially but likely) to make the playoffs and down 10. 2020 is weird.
— Dustin Fox (@DustinFox37) December 27, 2020
The Jets finished 2-14 on the season with the other win coming against the Los Angeles Rams.
In the case of the Raiders game, yes, there were crazy winds and weather conditions at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Browns could only put six points (two field goals) on the score board.
Even the Raiders, used to a much warmer climate, managed to score 16 points in the win.
Raiders pull away in 4th quarter to give Browns 1st home loss of 2020
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) November 1, 2020
3. Don’t Give Up Big Plays
— Geoff Magliocchetti (@GeoffJMags) January 17, 2021
Allowing Kansas City Chiefs backup quarterback Chad Henne to convert that first down in the divisional playoff likely still haunts the players and coaches.
The Browns tried to address their defensive shortfalls because of that and other plays like it in 2020.
Myles Garrett was the heart and soul of the defense in 2020, and thankfully he has gained a lot of help in 2021.
The Browns know what they need to do to win games.
The game plan for offense is to establish the run and let the passing game progress as a result.
Defensively, the Browns need to get more turnovers and be more aggressive overall.
With the player additions on that side of the ball, big plays at the expense of the Browns defense should not be as plentiful.
Hopefully, the 2021 Browns are able to use the past experiences in 2020 as building blocks for the team’s success.