The 2017 NFL season has finally arrived with the Cleveland Browns hitting the field at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns were a perfect 4-0 during the preseason, showing some hope and promise for the coming season. But, now the games count and the preseason is behind them. What will happen for the Browns this coming season? Well, let me take a stab at it. So, without further ado, here are my ten bold predictions for the Browns 2017 season.
- The Browns defense will be just outside the top ten in total sacks, increasing their total by more than 10 sacks
The Browns defense was pitiful last season in getting sacks, notching the second fewest sacks in the league with just 26 sacks. With the drafting of Myles Garrett, I believe his impact on the defense will be felt a lot in how often the defense takes down the quarterback. With a year under his belt and the attention going towards Garrett, Emmaneul Ogbah should see an increase in sacks this season. The injury to Garrett does hurt the team’s pass rush in the early season, but I expect some of the other defenders to step up. Plus, the move to Greg Williams defense will help contribute to more pressure being made by the Browns defense. The Browns will post at least 37 sacks and be in the 10-15 range of team sacks totals.
- Even with the injury, Myles Garrett will get at least eight sacks in his rookie season
As you may have noticed since the Browns drafted Myles Garrett and even before that, I have not been shy of my high opinion of Garrett. The Browns have simply not had a player with the talent Garrett has. Once he gets healthy and on the field, he will immediately be a pass rushing threat, causing teams to have to gameplan for him. Even by missing time in the early season, I think he will get at least eight sacks.
- 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 started a little slowly in his debut with the Browns. But with a whole offseason and learning the Greg Williams defense, I believe he will return to his New England Patriot form and become a true playmaker for the Browns defense. He is a unique athlete who Greg Williams will use in multiple roles, leading to his wide-variety of stat production. He will be used all over the field.
- Jabrill Peppers will score a touchdown on defense, offense and special teams
Jabrill Peppers is a versatile playmaker who is incredible dangerous with the ball in his hands. On defense, he was used mostly as the deep safety, roaming the backend of the Browns defense. This position will allow him to be a ball hawk and get some opportunities for interceptions. He may also be moved around the defense in different roles, which should give him more opportunities to be around the ball. On offense, Hue Jackson has mentioned using him on offense. I think he will be used in special packages, either taking snaps or handoffs, which should lead to touchdown chances. The most likely touchdown likelihood will come on special teams. He is a great return with big play ability on every return.
- Isaiah Crowell will exceed 1,200 yards rushing
Isaiah Crowell is the feature back for the Browns and will receive the majority of carries, giving him the opportunity to rush over 1,200 yards. As I will later predict, the Browns will rush more than last season and be a more balanced offense, which is good news for Crowell. Also, Crowell is in a contract year and wants to perform to highest level. So, the running back will be one of the leading rushers in the NFL and post over 1,200 yards on the ground.
- Duke Johnson will have the second most catches on the team, behind Corey Coleman
Duke Johnson is expected to be used more as a slot receiver this coming season. This will allow him to get more times to get the ball in his hands. I think he will perform well as a slot receiver and continue to earn time at running back. With his increase role at receiver, along with his third down back ability, he will receive a lot of passes, which should make him the second leading receiver on the team in terms of receptions.
- Corey Coleman will have at least 800 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns
The Browns need to have a receiver step and be their No. 1 pass catcher and I believe Corey Coleman is in line to do that. When healthy last season, he showed that he has the talent to be a really dangerous receiver. I think we will see that form this season and he becomes the team’s No. 1 receiver. He will produce some big plays, especially being paired with the big arm of DeShone Kizer. It’s Coleman’s time to shine.
- DeShone Kizer will have a 20 or more touchdown passes and 15 or more interceptions
DeShone Kizer has a big arm and good pocket presence, but he is a rookie with some accuracy issues and decision-making questions. I think he will perform like many rookies do in their first seasons. He will make some amazing plays and big throws, but he will make mistakes. Kizer will have 20 or more touchdowns, but he will also throw 15 or more interceptions. He will have his ups and downs.
- The Browns offense will be more balanced, with the team rushing at least 44% of the total plays
Last season, the Browns simply were too unbalanced and shied away too much from their running game. The team had the fewest amount of rush attempts and the fifth lowest rushing play percentage in the league. The team rushed 350 times and ran just 38.17% of their total plays. This season with a rookie quarterback and an improved line, the Browns will be more balanced on offense and run the ball. The team will not be completely balanced because they will likely be behind more than other teams, which will lead to more passing attempts. But, the team should rely on their running game more this season.
- The Browns will have between 5-8 wins this season
The Browns will be a lot better this season, but that might not necessarily show up in win and losses. The team will show the improvement on the field and give fans a lot of hope for the future. The young players will grow and show improvement throughout the year, creating a nucleus for the Browns front office to build the team around. It may not be pretty at times because of the youth movement, but the team will be better off for it. The Browns may show it in wins, but I believe they will win between five and eight wins.
Other 2017 Cleveland Browns preview articles at WFNY
- Changing the Culture
- HBT guide to team building
- Isaiah Crowell: Top 5 All-Time Cleveland Browns running back within reach?
- Duke Johnson: Swiss-army knife
- Bucking bad rushing game trends
- Does starting young quarterbacks early ruin them?
- Predicting the 53-man roster
- Myles Garrett; NFL’s most interesting man
- Why four quarterbacks?
- Jabrill Peppers is the Browns version of Jose Ramirez