Heading into the 2019 season the Cleveland Browns looked like they were going to be a dangerous team.
Sadly, things did not go their way and they missed the playoffs for the 17th straight season.
The Browns have plenty of young pieces to build around, but can’t seem to put it all together yet.
Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire recently ranked the Browns as having the 21st ranked defense in the NFL.
“Going into every NFL season, there’s always one team that looks great on paper, and we’re then reminded that games aren’t played on paper. Last season, it was the Browns on both offense and defense. Cleveland was as loaded with talent as any team, but fell from 14th to 26th in Defensive DVOA in the second half of the season as the offense similarly fell apart. The good news is that there are pieces with which to build for new defensive coordinator Joe Woods. Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams are two of the league’s best young cornerbacks, defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi remains an underrated force, and two LSU draftees — safety Grant Delpit and linebacker Jacob Phillips — should help the middle of the defense.”
What Happened in 2019?
The Browns looked like division favorites before the season started, but everything fell apart for them.
The offense heavily struggled to do anything productive under then-coach Freddie Kitchens.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield took a step back and suffered from a sophomore slump last season.
He threw 21 interceptions which was the second-most in the league during the 2019 season.
Cleveland continued to turn the ball over at a rapid pace which only hurt their defense even more.
The already struggling defense was forced to be on the field even more because the offensive unit couldn’t move the ball or would commit turnovers.
Things seemingly got worse for Cleveland when superstar defensive end Myles Garrett was suspended for the season.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 22, 2019
He only played 10 games for Cleveland, but recorded 29 tackles, 18 quarterback hits, and 10 sacks before being suspended.
The Browns were unable to replace that kind of production and their defense suffered significantly from the loss of Garrett.
Will Things Get Better in 2020?
Hopefully, things are looking up for the Browns with new head coach Kevin Stefanski and new defensive coordinator Joe Woods.
The players appear to be excited and ready to get to work with their new coach.
Stefanski believes that he can teach Mayfield a few things and help him technique-wise.
Getting Mayfield to limit the turnovers will be a key part to helping the defense in the long run.
The Browns already have a fairly solid defense on paper, but added more talent this offseason.
They selected LSU safety Grant Delpit during the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
“With the 44th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft the Cleveland Browns select … Grant Delpit, Safety, LSU.”
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) April 25, 2020
He is expected to compete for the starting free safety spot in camp and during the preseason.
Cleveland added Missouri defensive tackle Jordan Elliott during the draft as well.
He recorded 44 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks during his final year in 2019.
The Browns hope that Elliott can develop and become a reliable starting option in the future.
Will the Browns Raise Their Rank?
Seeing the Browns ranked as the No. 21 defensive unit last season doesn’t come as a surprise.
Cleveland has plenty of talent, but failed to capitalize on all sides of the ball last season.
They have Greedy Williams and Denzel Ward that should give them lockdown defensive backs for the future.
Both Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi are powerful pass rushers that should strike fear into all opposing offensive lines.
This organization has young and talent players, but everything just seemed to go wrong for them last year.
The Browns should have a much better defense in 2020, assuming these young players continue to develop and improve throughout the season.