John Dorsey is the new General Manager in Cleveland, and he’s got a lot of work to do.
Since I can remember, the Browns have always been a mess. Yes, there are issues at QB, but the execution of this team is mind-boggling. They are often non-committal on prospects and give them no chance to develop. They will have one decent draft and then botch the next year’s draft. Cleveland needs an attitude change before anything else.
I don’t think hope should be lost in the Dawg Pound, though. Yes, quarterback Deshone Kizer has been shaky this season, but many good QBs have a rough rookie campaign (heck, look at Jared Goff!). When listening to Kizer being interviewed, you get the sense that he’s a smart kid who’s willing to learn.
So, with that being said, let’s identify three things the Browns must do in order to compete.
Make Deshone Kizer’s Life Easier
It’s not to say that Kizer has a poor offense. Running backs Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson make an electric duo, and the receivers are average, but serviceable. Let’s not forget–if Josh Gordon reaches full form once again, Kizer is in for a treat.
I like the move of releasing Kenny Britt, but the Browns still need to focus on getting deeper at the wide receiver position. Taking a receiver in the first three rounds will be a goal they should have.
As for protecting Kizer, former GM Sashi Brown created a solid foundation in bringing in Kevin Zeitler and J.C. Tretter, as well as extending Joe Thomas and Joel Bitonio. When healthy, this is a very good offensive line. However, the right tackle position remains a liability. Thomas is also aging and coming off his first injury ever as a pro, so maybe they focus on getting an offensive lineman early in the upcoming draft.
In making this offense one that helps Kizer succeed, this team can start its transition from dreadful to being in contention for relevancy.
Make the Defense a Bully
As the old saying goes, defense wins championships. The Browns should look no further than the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have made themselves into legitimate contenders with focusing on the defense.
I wouldn’t say that the Browns defense is bad, but there are definite holes in this unit. They need two more quality linebackers, a safety and a corner in order to become a competitive defense. They have a good mix of veterans such as Jason McCourty and Jamie Collins and talented young players, such as Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah. I like that they extended Christian Kirksey, too.
If Cleveland is able to add just a few more pieces and ensure they extend some key players on defense (such as Danny Shelton and Briean Boddy-Calhoun) then their climb to legitimacy becomes that much easier.
Build on the Existing Foundation
The best teams are the most well-rounded teams, but contenders also share another thing in common: they have depth. The Browns have a promising defensive line, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t add another one.
Take the Jets for an example (yes, they aren’t good, but if we rewind to 2015, they made a smart move). In the 2015 NFL Draft, the Jets had the sixth pick. They had a few needs, mainly QB, but since Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were already selected, that wasn’t an option. The best prospect of the draft, Leonard Williams, was available for the Jets to take. Remind yourself that this defensive line consisted of the dominant trio of Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison. They added Williams, which ended up being a brilliant pick. Wilkerson and Richardson regressed thereafter, and Harrison signed with the Giants in the offseason. Now, Williams is the focal point of the defensive line.
Now, for the Browns, their defensive line is young, but talented. They don’t need to invest a first round pick in a defensive lineman, but assuring that this unit has depth and security is important. That’s the kind of move that will build a championship team.
The rebuild of the Browns is not an easy task, but John Dorsey has the opportunity to change a team with a losing culture and make them a winner.
First and foremost, it starts with getting the right guys; the people who are hard-working and dependable. Then, ensure that everyone has the same goal in mind. Lastly, go execute your game plan. Do those things, and the narrative surrounding the Cleveland Browns is bound to change.