Cleveland Browns 2017 Preview

 

There wasn’t exactly high hopes in Cleveland about the 2017-2018 NFL Regular Season. Many believed that the Browns would be much better than they are now, though. After all, Cleveland seemed on the right track last season. If anything, adding DE Myles Garrett through the NFL Draft was going to help the defense. Both running backs, Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr., appeared headed for stardom.

The Browns even drafted a young quarterback, DeShone Kizer, whom appeared to have all the tools to be a successful rookie QB. Besides, there’s no way the 2017-2018 Cleveland Browns could be worse than the 2016-2017 Cleveland Browns, right? Right? I mean…right?

Cleveland Browns 2017 NFL Regular Season Update

Preview:  Cleveland’s Rushing Attack Could Be Stellar

Update:  The Running Game is Worse This Year than Last Year

I have no clue why the Cleveland Browns’ rushing attack is so horrid. The Browns appeared set to have one of the better running games in the NFL. Led by tough rusher Isaiah Crowell, it sure looked like Cleveland’s rushing attack might explode this season.

It hasn’t just not exploded. It’s become downright pathetic. In 2016, Crowell was a beast. He rushed for a 4.8 per carry average. He scored 7 TDs. He caught 40 passes for 319 yards. Crowell rushed for 952 yards. This season? He hasn’t come close to those numbers. From 91 carries, Crowell only has 287 yards rushing. His per rush average is a ridiculously horrible 3.2 per carry. Crowell has caught 13 passes for 108 yards. That’s not horrible. Unfortunately, nothing Isaiah Crowell has done this season has translated into a single TD. Crowell hasn’t scored yet in 2017.

Is that ridiculous, or what?

Duke Johnson Jr. has played much better than Crowell. Johnson Jr. has 3 TDs on the season. He’s only rushed for 143 yards. But, he’s only had 28 carries. That’s a 5.1 per rush average. Duke’s also caught 32 passes for 314 yards. He’s caught a TD pass.

Without a doubt, Duke Johnson Jr. has become Cleveland’s most reliable offensive weapon. That’s not to write that Johnson Jr. does anything to help the Browns win a football game. That’s just to say that if Cleveland wants to get close to winning a football game, they had better lean on Duke Johnson Jr.

Preview:  Is QB Brock Osweiler the Answer?

Update:  Nope. But they should have tried to make him the answer

It’s unfathomable to me why the Cleveland Browns cut Brock Osweiler. Hey, I get it. It’s Brock Osweiler. The man was an absolute disaster in Houston. However, Houston drafted DeShaun Watson and backed him up with Tom Savage. Cleveland drafted DeShone Kizer and backed him up with Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan.

Osweiler, if anything, could have served as that go to QB with experience. Cleveland has played 7 games so far this season. Kizer’s gotten the most starts. Hogan’s gotten a start. Kessler’s filled in here and there. Who knows who starts in the future?

Osweiler’s not a good quarterback. Even Brock knows this. There’s no doubt that he’d have been much better under center this season than Kizer, Kessler, or Hogan. He’d also have filled in nicely when Kizer went to the bench. That game was an absolute disaster. Kevin Hogan took Kizer’s place. What happened in that game is the reason NFL teams must grab the best quarterback they can when they can.

In Hogan’s only start, he completed 54.1% of his passes. He threw 3 interceptions to a single TD. His yards per attempt came out to 3.8. Hogan’s QB rating in that game was a dismal 38.1. What’s sad is that Kizer hasn’t played much better.

Kizer’s QB rating is 47.8. He’s completing 52% of his passes. He’s thrown for 965 yards. He’s thrown 3 TD passes. He’s thrown a ridiculous 11 interceptions. Kessler? Yeah, he hasn’t torn it up, either. After Hue Jackson benched Kizer in Cleveland’s ridiculously bad 9 to 12 loss to Tennessee, Kessler came in and completed 52.6% of his passes. Cody’s got a 50.5 QB rating.

Preview:  Has Cleveland’s Defense Turned Around?

Update:  It’s gotten better. 

I have some faith in Cleveland’s defense. It’s definitely improved. Cleveland’s defense ranked 31st in the NFL last season. The only team with a worse defense were the San Francisco 49’ers. The Browns allowed a total of 392.4 yards per game. Of those 392.4 yards, 294 were via the pass. Over 142 were via the rush. In 2016, opponents averaged 28.3 points per game versus the Cleveland Browns.

As of NFL Week 7, Cleveland’s defense is, remarkably, ranked 9th in the NFL. The Browns allow 83.7 rushing yards per game. They allow 221 passing yards for a total of 304.7 per. That’s a remarkable turnaround for a defense. To go from a 31st ranking to a Top 10 ranking in the NFL in one season is crazy good.

Unfortunately, the Browns still allow over 24 points per game. Part of the reason is because Cleveland’s offense is so bad, the quarterbacks throw so many interceptions that the Browns’ D must often play on their side of the field instead of their opponent’s side of the field.

Preview Prediction:  4 and 12

Update Prediction:  1 and 15

I believed Cleveland might beat the New York Jets in NFL Week Week 5. I thought they might have a shot versus the Indianapolis Colts in NFL Week 3. The Colts beat Cleveland 31 to 28. The Jets beat Cleveland 14 to 17.

Week 7 was Cleveland’s worst loss yet. The Browns, again, played a winning football game. Cleveland’s D held the Tennessee Titans to 80 yards rushing. The Titans rushed the ball 32 times, meaning that the D held Tennessee’s tough rushing attack to 2.5 yards per carry. What’s as good is the fact that the Browns kept Titans’ QB Marcus Mariota to 21 out of 34 for 203 yards.  The Browns’ D even sacked Mariota twice.

The D’s effort was for nothing. Cleveland’s offense was so bad that the teams exchanged field goals until overtime where Tennessee’s Ryan Succop got the last field goal.

That’s why I only believe the Cleveland Browns win a single football game this season. The Browns have nobody who can play quarterback. Osweiler might have been the guy. DeShone Kizer definitely is not. Not this year, anyhow, while both Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler aren’t even good enough to serve as viable backups.

I believe Cleveland only has two chances for the elusive win. On Nov. 26, Cleveland is at Cincinnati. Cincinnati beat Cleveland 31 to 7 on Oct. 1. DE Myles Garrett didn’t play in that game. Cincy’s offensive line is horrible while Nov. 26 is far enough for the Browns to hope that they can get something, anything, out of their offense by then.

The second possible game that the Browns could win is versus the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 17. The Ravens beat Cleveland 24 to 10 on Sep. 17. Garrett didn’t play in that game, either. Baltimore’s offense is almost as bad as Cleveland’s.

So, there you go, two chances for the Cleveland Browns to win a football game in the 2017-2018 NFL Season.

Cleveland Browns Super Bowl 52 Odds

Preview Fair Odds:  2,000 to 1 fair odds

Update Fair Odds:  20,000 to 1 fair odds

During my Cleveland Browns Preview, I thought 2,000 to 1 were fair odds. My thinking was that 2,000 to 1 was worth it because the Browns would at least improve their rushing attack. Cleveland didn’t.

The rushing attack is worse this season than it was last season. What’s really amazing is that Cleveland traded the second pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to the Philadelphia Eagles. Back then, I thought Cleveland had made a brilliant choice. I didn’t see why the Eagles were in love with Carson Wentz.

Well, I was wrong. Wentz has turned into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Every Sunday, Hue Jackson must decide among Kevin Hogan, Cody Kessler, and DeShone Kizer. I guess, Philly made the right choice.

To be honest, Cleveland is a Wentz away from having at least a 5 win season. If they can get the right quarterback, Cleveland should show improvement everywhere else on the offense. The defense is already on the right track.

There’s no way Cleveland gets that QB this season. Even if they did, what would it matter? LT Joe Thomas, there best overall player, is out for the season.

20,000 to 1 odds aren’t even fair. That’s how bad the Cleveland Browns have been in the 2017-2018 NFL Season.