Browns

Final Verdict: Joe Gilbert’s 2017 Browns Preseason Predictions

The Cleveland Browns finished off their winless season on Sunday, falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns were a mess throughout the organization. The season fell well short of most people’s expectations, including mine. After coming off a 1-15 season, improvement was expected, but somehow the Browns finished off with a worst record than last season. It was a let down of a season.

Before the 2017 season, I made 10 Browns predictions about the season. Today, we will give the final verdicts on all ten of my predictions and see how good or bad I did in predicting the Browns season. Spoiler alert, do not ask me for the lottery numbers.

Let’s get to the verdicts!

  1. The Browns defense will be just outside the top 10 in total sacks, increasing their total by more than 10 sacks

The Browns finished the season with 34 sacks, which was the 21st most in the league. In 2016, Cleveland had just 26 sacks and ranked 30th in the league. So, the Browns did improve in getting pressure on the quarterback, but not enough to reach my prediction. The Browns have a young pass rush, so this should continue to trend upwards next season.

Verdict: Wrong

Level of Wrongness: Close, but no cigar

  1. Even with the injury, Myles Garrett will get at least eight sacks in his rookie season

Myles Garrett finished the 2017 season with seven sacks in 11 games. He fell short of my eight-sack prediction, but just was one sack off. Even though he did not reach eight sacks, his rookie season should be considered a success. As the season went on and he grew healthier each week, Garrett was creating consistent pressure and showed off his skills that earned him the No. 1 pick billing. My prediction was wrong, but my expectations were met.

Verdict: Wrong

Level of Wrongness: Close, but no cigar

  1. 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 played in just six games, posting one sack, one interception and 31 tackles. The injury that cut his season short definitely curtailed the success of this prediction, but before getting hurt Collins was inconsistent and did not show the level of performance he played at with the Patriots. He probably would have been close to reaching those predictions had he played all 16 games, but the way he was playing was short of being a true playmaker for the defense. Hopefully, we will see an uptick in his performance in 2018.

Verdict: Wrong

Level of Wrongness: Completely

  1. Jabrill Peppers will score a touchdown on defense, offense and special teams

Jabrill Peppers did not record a touchdown in his rookie season. Peppers did not have the season many expected from him. On defense, he began the season as the angel safety in Gregg Williams defense, which was definitely something he was not comfortable at doing. He seemed to improve as the season wore on and as his role moved more towards the line of scrimmage, where he was fitted to play. As a returner, he was quite frankly a big disappointment. His longest return, either punt or kick, was a 35-yard kickoff return. He did not show his playmaking ability he had shown all throughout his college career. And on offense, he had no role. With a season behind him, hopefully we will see more of the playmaking ability he showed at Michigan.

Verdict: Wrong

Level of Wrongness: Completely

  1. Isaiah Crowell will exceed 1,200 yards rushing

Isaiah Crowell rushed 206 times for 853 yards and two touchdowns. His likely final season in Cleveland was a huge letdown due in part to his own performance, but also in part to the lack of run game usage by Hue Jackson. Crowell returned to his 2015 level of performance where he had trouble with his ability to pick the right hole to run through. But, Hue Jackson’s inability to stay with the run game and rely on for more than a half is a big reason Crowell misses this prediction. Crowell most likely ended his career in Cleveland with an underperforming and disappointing 2017 season.

Verdict: Wrong

Level of Wrongness: Completely

  1. Duke Johnson will have the second most catches on the team, behind Corey Coleman

Duke Johnson led the team with 74 receptions for 693 yards and three touchdowns, while Corey Coleman was seventh in receptions with 23. This prediction is wrong due to my belief that Coleman would lead the team in receptions. His performance was definitely hurt by the injury that cost him seven games. But, I am not sure he would have overtaken Johnson in receptions. I was right about Johnson being a major part of the passing game, but I did not think he would lead the team. Johnson had an outstanding season, especially as a receiver. He was the Browns most consistent playmaker on offense. Johnson is a huge part of the future for the Browns on offense. Hopefully, Cleveland and Hue Jackson will realize what they have in Johnson and give him a lot more touches in 2018.

Verdict: Wrong

Level of Wrongness: Close, but no cigar

  1. Corey Coleman will have at least 800 receiving yards and seven touchdowns

Corey Coleman played in just nine games, notching those 23 receptions for 305 yards and two touchdowns. When Coleman was on the field, he had an up and down performance. He showed glimpses of his improvement, including his route running, but he just did not consistently produce for the offense. Now, a lot of this can be blamed on quarterback DeShone Kizer. But, Coleman did not have the season I would have liked to have seen. I still have belief in him being a productive wide receiver in the NFL. 2018 will be a make or break season for Coleman.

Verdict: Wrong

Level of Wrongness: Completely

  1. DeShone Kizer will have a 20 or more touchdown passes and 15 or more interceptions

DeShone Kizer finished the season completing 53.6% of his passes for 2,894 yards, 11 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Kizer greatly underperformed in reaching my touchdown prediction, but greatly exceeded my interception prediction. Kizer just had a rough season to say the least. He struggled with the same issues that he had in college, including decision making and accuracy. These issues are serious flaws that could be everlasting detriments to his game and things he cannot improve a lot at over time. He struggled in college with these and still struggles in the NFL with these issues. Kizer was dealt a horrible hand in terms of the scheme, surrounding cast and coaching he was thrust into. So, with an offseason and a lot lower expectations, he will have less pressure on his back. But, he is not the future of the Browns quarterback position, in my opinion. It’s worth it to keep him and develop him as a backup quarterback to see if he can develop and fix his issues.

Verdict: Wrong

Level of Wrongness: Half Right

  1. The Browns offense will be more balanced, with the team rushing at least 44% of the total plays

Boy was I gullible. Of the 1,008 scrimmage plays, the Browns had just 384 rush attempts, which is just 38% of the snaps. Hue Jackson can be the major blame for this lack of a balanced offense. Jackson, in almost all 16 games, would ditch the run game by halftime, sometimes even early, and throw the ball for most of the rest of the game. Yes, the Browns trailed in many of the games, so the team was forced to pass the ball to catch up. But in many of the instances where Jackson stopped calling run plays, the Browns had time to still stick with the run game. Jackson just did not run the ball and broke his preseason promise that the Browns run game would be the backbone of the offense. It was not and that is on Jackson. The Browns runners were OK. Running back Isaiah Crowell did not perform up to his 2016 form, but some of that was because of the inconsistent usage he received. Running back Duke Johnson was also good in the very limited carries he received. The offensive line was rebuilt in the offseason and was built to run the ball. But, Jackson just did not call the run plays like he said he would in the offseason.

Verdict: Wrong

Level of Wrongness: Completely

  1. The Browns will have between five to eight wins this season

There are no words to describe how wrong I was on this prediction. I bought into Hue Jackson improving as a coach in his second year. I bought into the player upgrades the team made over the offseason. Simply put, I am shocked that the Browns did not at least get close to this prediction. The talent on this team is better than zero win team. I will go to the grave saying this.

Verdict: Wrong

Level of Wrongness: Completely

Final Verdict

10 Wrong Predictions

Level of Wrongness

Completely: Six

Close, but no cigar: Three

Half Right: One