Finally, the Cleveland Browns 2016 regular season is upon us. Over the offseason, the Browns saw near complete turnover, yet again. The Browns front office is now led by Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta. Hue Jackson replaces Mike Pettine as the team’s head coach. Robert Griffin III is the starting quarterback. And 30 of the 53 players from the final 2015 roster have been jettisoned. With all the change, what can we expect from the Browns 2016 season?
Here are my ten bold predictions before a real snap is played. Let’s hope I can do better with these than last season.
We will see Robert Griffin III, franchise quarterback. Griffin has the backing and coaching of Jackson. Jackson was able to make Andy Dalton, a far less talented player, into a quarterback who led multiple teams to the playoffs. Griffin has the arm and athleticism to lead the Browns offense and show that he will be the franchise quarterback the team and city of Cleveland have been waiting for.
The Browns defense will be hard to watch this season. It lacks a real star-level player who can consistently perform. The Browns are down right horrible at rushing the passer and stopping the run. Coverage is probably the unit’s strongest area, which is not an indicator they are strong there. Also, the coverage team has to work longer because of the lack of rush. The defense is ugly.
Even with the expected horrific defense, there will be bright spots. Ogbah has really flashed during the preseason and is now listed as the starting outside linebacker. He will lead the team in sacks because there are few other players who could beat him. Still, Ogbah will who off his athleticism and skill to lead to some exciting plays.
Jamie Meder has played well during the preseason and it will continue during the season. On the contrary, Danny Shelton has not taken the jump from his rookie season. Meder will have a more productive season for the Browns, even pushing out Shelton as the starting nose tackle. Shelton is not looking like what we all expected he would be when the team drafted him.
The Browns have upgraded their receiver corps. The biggest addition to the unit will be first-round pick Corey Coleman. Coleman will be the team’s leader in receiving yards. He will be used in many different ways, allowing him to get the ball in his hands in space, which will allow him to use his elite athleticism.
Terrelle Pryor will be a huge weapon in Hue Jackson’s offense, playing in the role of Mohamed Sanu, but with even more playing time. He will score a touchdown in three forms; rushing, receiving and throwing. Pryor will be used as a unique weapon for the offense, which lead lead to some big plays for a team in need of them.
The offense behind Robert Griffin III will be a nice surprise and end up being a top 15 offense in terms of points per game. The team will feature a much-improved passing game with more players able to make the big plays. The Browns run game will be solid enough to keep the defense honest.
Duke Johnson will be a dual threat in the backfield, rushing the ball and catching the ball. He will be used all over the field in Hue Jackson’s offense, which will help him get the second most receptions on the team. He will be lined up as a receiver in many different situations, which makes it difficult for defenses to cover him because of his elusiveness and receiving skills as a running back.
Many believe the Browns will be the worst team in all of football, but that will not be the case. Philadelphia, Buffalo, Chicago, San Francisco and Detroit will have worse seasons and records than the Browns in 2016. The Browns will struggle, but their status as the worst team in the league will not be true.
The Browns will beat the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1 to record just their second season opener win in the expansion era. The Browns will face a rookie quarterback in Carson Wentz that Ray Horton will blitz all day long.
So, yes, Cleveland will be in first place and 1-0 going into Week 2 at home.