The Cleveland Browns 2020 offseason is in full swing.
The search for a new general manager is still on, however, the coaching staff is starting to get pieced together under Kevin Stefanski.
Browns fans await a new season that, hopefully, does not leave as sour a taste as 2019 has.
Freddie Kitchens was underwhelming, and that might be generous to give him.
Baker Mayfield regressed and Odell Beckham Jr. was about a fraction of what was anticipated.
Still, there were positives to take away from last season.
Plenty of guys showed signs of progress and that they can be here for this continued turnaround.
With that in mind, let’s dive into some of those players that took a big step forward in 2019.
1. Jarvis Landry
Juice was without a doubt the best Browns receiver in 2019.
Jarvis Landry has been Cleveland's best WR in 2019 and it's not all that close. Another 9 for 97 and a TD today. pic.twitter.com/boisarbD5p
— Jake Burns (@jake_burns18) November 10, 2019
With a roster that includes Odell Beckham Jr., he’ll always be viewed as the team’s second receiver.
Yes, OBJ was a big part of the reason Jarvis Landry was so successful last year.
Don’t get things twisted, though. Juice brought a level of consistency that was sorely lacking from this Browns team throughout the year.
He finished the year with 1174 receiving yards, his third 1000-plus yard receiving season in the NFL and his first since 2016.
This was also good for the 10th best-receiving yard total across the league.
What’s more impressive is that he accomplished this while playing the entire season with a hip injury.
Jarvis had eight games with at least 70 receiving yards, a pair of 100-yard games, and a two-touchdown performance week 12 against his former employer in the Miami Dolphins.
Landry also finished in the top-20 in total receptions en route to a fifth straight Pro Bowl selection.
2. Nick Chubb
We knew Nick Chubb was a star, but in 2019, he took the next step to becoming a superstar.
There are plenty of running backs that regress after their first season in the NFL.
James Conner certainly took a big step back in Pittsburgh this year even when healthy.
Chubb, however, remained a dominant rushing threat.
Even with a lesser offensive line than in 2018, Chubb continued to punish opposing defenses.
He was nearly impossible to bring down, leading the league in broken tackles per Pro Football Reference with 32.
Top Juke Rates (Evaded Tackles Per Touch):
1. Mark Ingram: 35.2%
2. Devin Singletary: 33.3%
3. Joe Mixon: 32.9%
4. Miles Sanders: 32.8%
5. Josh Jacobs: 30.9%
6. Alvin Kamara: 30.6%
7. Aaron Jones: 30.2%
8. Nick Chubb: 28.7%
9. Dalvin Cook: 28.4%
9. Marlon Mack: 28.4% pic.twitter.com/t2s4lTT9RJ
— RotoUnderworld (@rotounderworld) January 21, 2020
He was also just one of four players last season to average three or more yards after contact per rush.
Of course, this 88-yard dash in week 4 against the Ravens was incredible as well as the second-longest rush from scrimmage last year.
NICK CHUBB IS OUT! An 88-yard TD run. The Longest run from scrimmage this season. pic.twitter.com/WnbH6CwT97
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) September 29, 2019
The list of accolades for Chubb goes on.
He finished second in rushing yards and rushing yards per game, third in all-purpose yards, and third in yards from scrimmage.
He was also named AFC Offensive Player of the Week in week 4 and was named to his first Pro Bowl.
3. Joe Schobert
Similar to Chubb, Joe Schobert is a quiet star within the Browns locker room.
There are no distractions with him, just top-tier play.
The Browns could use more players to follow that model moving forward.
Joe was great in 2019, and his ability to both tackle ball carriers and drop back into coverage have other fan bases clamoring for him in free agency.
Linebacker Joe Schobert should be a free agent priority for the Giants.
He was strong in pass coverage in 2019, allowing a passer rating of 74.6 (55 targets).
Schobert is also a good tackler/run defender, posting a missed tackle percentage of just 10.7 percent this season.
— Vincent Rapisardi (@VinceRapisardi) January 21, 2020
Joe led the team in two categories defensively as he recorded 133 total tackles and picked off four passes.
His total tackle mark was good for tenth in the NFL, and his 89 solo tackles finished 6th in the league.
Schobert had two straight weeks where he intercepted two passes, coming in weeks 11 and 12 against the Steelers and Dolphins.
His performance against the Dolphins earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
The former Wisconsin Badger continues to be a workhorse for the Browns defense, and fans hope the new GM will offer Joe another contract.
4. Denzel Ward
Fans were critical of him throughout the year, but Denzel Ward was one of the better corners in football in 2019. Per Pro Football Focus, Ward allowed just a 44.9% completion percentage when passes were thrown into his coverage. This was the best percentage among league corners.
#Browns CB Denzel Ward allowed a completion percentage of 44.9% when thrown his way this season.
That was the best in the league. pic.twitter.com/WSx9cByWqD
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) December 30, 2019
His 61-yard interception return from a touchdown against the Bengals in week 14 also helped secure a Browns win.
PFF had Ward ranked 21st in their end-of-year cornerback power rankings.
In a league where playing in the secondary becomes increasingly difficult because of rule changes, having a top-25 corner is crucial to having a good defense.
I agree 100% with this list, Jarvis Landry especially. Baker should be happy to have a WR like him. He will be an elite WR in no time.
Chubb proved we could still run with our starting RB out. And Denzel Ward is going to be a difference maker in games, you watch and see.
And give Joe Schobert a new contract. The Browns would be dumb to let him go into free agency.