(Image Credit: Ken Blaze/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick
The Colts and Falcons were not the only team to get bad news regarding their playoff status once Week 16 was over. As the Cleveland Browns are now on the list of teams that will not be playing in the playoffs as a result of their loss against the New Orleans Saints 17-10. There was one party that saw this team as a dark horse to make the playoffs, but others thought otherwise. Well now it is official, there are three main reasons why this team will not play in the postseason.
1. They Overelied on Deshaun Watson Return
Probably the most obvious one on the list. There was so much hype in Deshaun Watson’s return to the NFL after he chose to sit in the 2021 NFL Season and was suspended for 11 games for the many Sexual Assault Alligations that he faced. He literally has not played since 2020, but it is clear that the Browns mindset was that the time he took off does not matter as he will perform like Old Deshaun and get this team to the playoffs. Well turns out he is rusty than a tool box. I mean you can tell how rusty he has been the past few weeks. Just look at a few of those plays below.
It is super concerning and with the Browns trading a stock load of picks and giving a fully guaranteed contract. The Browns better hope that Watson is no longer rusty next season. If I am them I would resign Jacoby Brissett as he was solid during Watson’s absence.
2. The Browns Run Defense is awful
Ok, I may get heat for saying this, but this legit maybe the worst run defense in franchise history for the Browns. That is saying something knowing how bad the Browns were for many years. They have consistently been ranked as the worst according to DVOA and I would not be shocked if they completely overhaul the Defensive Tackle core. Maybe keep Perrion Winfrey as he was a rookie 4th round pick, but lets be real he has been awful this year. Jordan Elliot works more as a rotational Defensive Tackle as a full time starter he is a liability. Taven Bryan may have career highs, but he has not been great. Everyone else is garbage and if the Browns really want to improve, they need to invest in the run defense.
3. The Defense is Poorly Coached
I see a lot of people pointing the blame at Kevin Stefanski coaching wise and they have points. However I feel like he did a solid job and I think he will get another year. Especially as he is the best coach this franchise has had since returning to the league in 1999 and Second is Stefanski is an offensive minded coach and has done a great job working on offense.
The main problem with the defense is that they are poorly coached. I have no idea how Joe Woods still is the defensive coordinator with the awful schemes being used on defense. Also with how bad the run defense is, Joe Woods has seemingly ignored making adjustments with the defensive line. His role is clearly on the hot seat and I won’t be shocked if he is gone at the end of the season.
On The Bright Side - The Browns have all the tools to succeed on Offense (Excluding QB)
One thing I took note with the Browns this season is they have the tools to succeed on offense. They have a great RB duo in Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb. They have nice receivers in Amari Cooper and Donavan Peoples-Jones. You could argue the Browns could use another receiver which the Browns could use a draft pick to bolster. Luckily, they got a Top 10 Tight end in David Njoku. Even Harrison Bryant has shown flashes. The o-line has performed very well and Ethan Pocic has emerged as a top center in the NFL. The Point is the Browns have the tools on offense to succeed, but they need to hope that Watson can shake off that rust.