The Cleveland Browns 2017 season has been a disaster to say the least. With eight games under their belt, the Browns are still looking for win No. 1. The bye week has gone exactly like the season, full of negative storylines and dysfunction. At 0-8, the season has not gone the way many had predicted it would go, including me. Before the season, I had a hopeful outlook on the season and the way the franchise was building. But, this season has hampered those hopeful thoughts.
With it being the midway point of the season, I am taking a look at my ten preseason predictions for the Browns 2017 season, reviewing how they are turning out with eight games behind us. Many of them are wrong or are on their way to being wrong, but some might turn out to be right. So, lets take a look.
- The Browns defense will be just outside the top ten in total sacks, increasing their total by more than 10 sacks
The Browns currently stand at 16 total sacks on the season, ranking 23rd in the league. So in terms of their standing in the league, the Browns have improved a little, but it is falling short of my prediction that the unit will rank just outside the top ten in sacks. However, the Browns do have a very good chance to improve last season’s total of 26 sacks by at least ten sacks. The Browns are on pace for 32 sacks, which would be an improvement of six sacks from last year, but less than my stated prediction. But, I believe the total should see a spike for one big reason, a healthy Myles Garrett. With Garrett cleared to play, the Browns pass rush becomes more dangerous and should cause the total sack amount to get to at least 36 sacks.
- Even with the injury, Myles Garrett will get at least eight sacks in his rookie season
Myles Garrett has four sacks in just three games. He is right on pace to hit that eight sack total. Injuries have derailed his rookie season, but in the few games he has played Garrett has shown the talent that led the Browns to drafting him No. 1 overall. Coming out of the bye week, Garrett is expected to be ready to go and return to action. With how much success he has shown in just three games, if he can stay healthy for the last eight games, I think he can get to a double-digit sack total by the end of the season. Garrett has been one of the lone bright spots in this ugly season, even in his limited time on the field.
- Jamie Collins will get at least four sacks, two interceptions and 90 tackles, becoming a true playmaker in the middle of the defense
Jamie Collins has been a huge disappointment, along with Christian Kirksey, at the linebacker position. Collins currently has 30 tackles, one sack and no interceptions in the five games he has played this season. He, like Garrett, has suffered through injuries during the season, hurting his performance this season. However, Collins has not performed to the level I expected of him. Unless he makes a major improvement, he will fall short of my prediction. He has been far from a true playmaker for the Browns, showing little evidence of the great player he was in New England. He has shown glimpses with some impressive plays, but his consistency has been underwhelming. The play of Collins and Kirksey has been a huge detriment to a defense that has performed inconsistently.
- Jabrill Peppers will score a touchdown on defense, offense and special teams
Jabrill Peppers has been another huge disappointment in more ways then one with some of the disappointment being caused by things he cannot control. He has not scored a single touchdown on either defense, offense or special teams. On defense, Peppers has been used out of position by Gregg Williams. Lined up as the angel safety in Williams defense, Peppers has been forced to play incredibly far back in the secondary to be the last line of the defense. This position negates Peppers skill set. He is a player who is a versatile defender, who is better lined up around the line of scrimmage to utilize is athleticism, toughness and versatility. As an angel safety, he has struggled, hurting his ability to be around the ball to force a turnover and score a touchdown. On special teams, Peppers has underwhelmed as a returner, showing little of the playmaking ability he showed in college. And on offense, Peppers has yet to play a snap. His rookie season has been underwhelming.
- Isaiah Crowell will exceed 1,200 yards rushing
This is already wrong. There is no way Isaiah Crowell hits 1,000 yards rushing, let along 1,200 yards. Crowell has returned to his 2015 form, showing the inability to correctly find a hole and showing bad vision. He has struggled to find a consistent performance level throughout the first eight games of the season. Crowell has yet to show his 2016 form and the struggling run game can be blamed partly on Crowell’s performance. His play has led me to believe that this will be his final season with the Browns. Duke Johnson is a better back and should be receiving more touches than Crowell going forward.
- Duke Johnson will have the second most catches on the team, behind Corey Coleman
Duke Johnson has been the best offensive skill player on the team. In eight games, he has rushed 34 times for 176 yards and two touchdowns, while catching 36 passes for 324 yards and a touchdown. Johnson has exceeded my prediction by leading the team in receptions with 36 receptions through eight games. Johnson has been one of the lone playmakers on the offense. He played both running back and receiver so far this season, lining up in different spots because of his versatility to catch passes. With the injury to Corey Coleman, Johnson has been the team’s best receiver. He should earn even more touches for the last eight games of the season, likely leading to him ending up as the leading receiver on the team when the 2017 season ends.
- Corey Coleman will have at least 800 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns
Corey Coleman has played in just two games due to another injury. In those two games, he had six catches for 62 yards and a touchdown. This is another prediction where it looks to be almost certainly wrong already. But, this time it is due to an injury. Coleman once again broke a hand and is in the midst of missing a large chunk of games. Coleman has shown glimpses of his talent, but the injuries have derailed his career so far and have left the Browns questioning what kind of receiver he will be. He is expected to return this season and those games will be big for his future with the team. It has been really disappointing for him and the Browns that he has suffered these two freak injuries in his young career.
- DeShone Kizer will have a 20 or more touchdown passes and 15 or more interceptions
DeShone Kizer has had a really tough start to his career. In seven games, he has thrown three touchdowns and 11 interceptions. I was obviously too high on the touchdown prediction, but the interception prediction is looking like it will be right on the money. Before the season, I thought we would see a rookie quarterback who would show off his big arm with big plays, but also his inaccuracy and questionable decision-making. We have seen the latter, but the big plays have been lacking. The confidence of the young signal caller is at an all-time low. He has struggled as many rookies have struggled, but many other factors have crushed his confidence. The coaching and play calling of Hue Jackson has been downright horrible for a young signal caller, including getting benched on multiple occasions. Along with Jackson’s mishandling, the lack of talent to throw to has also hurt Kizer’s performance. I was not certain that Kizer would be the answer for the Browns quarterback woes, but I had the belief we would at least see some glimpses of his natural talent through big plays, however that has not even surfaced as much as I hoped. Kizer has not played well and there is a lot of evidence that Kizer is not a NFL starting quarterback, but the way he has been treated by the organization has been horrible, too. The whole situation surrounding Kizer has been a disaster, both by Kizer’s doing and the organizations.
- The Browns offense will be more balanced, with the team rushing at least 44% of the total plays
Oh how I was gullible. Hue Jackson said before the season that the run game would be the backbone of the offense. That was a lie. Of the 983 total offensive snaps, the Browns have rushed 350 times or 35.6% of the snaps. That is just ridiculous. With a rookie quarterback running the offense, Jackson has called an offense that is pass-happy and based on the back of Kizer rather than the offensive line and the running game. This fact is one of the factors that led me to the basis that Jackson should be fired. It is crazy to see a team that put so much money in the offensive line and has a rookie quarterback under center be so much orientated toward the pass and shying away from the run game. It is the definition of insanity.
- The Browns will have between 5-8 wins this season
Without a miraculous second half turnaround, the Browns have no chance of reaching at least five wins. This team has more talent then a winless team should have. The defense is littered with young talent and promising play. But, the team is still winless and the overall organization is a mess. The coaching staff has been a detriment and not an aid to the roster. Through player roles and play calling, the coaches have hurt the overall team’s performance. The front office has negated some key positions, most notably quarterback and wide receiver. They have put little talent in the receiver position, while adding a young quarterback who needs help around him to succeed as a young quarterback. The ownership now is getting involved on player acquisitions. The whole organization is a detriment to the talent on the roster, which is better than the record would indicate. The Browns are not the least talented team in the league, but they are the worst organization and team in the league.