Updated: Sep 19
The Browns, along with every NFL team cut down their initial roster to 53 Tuesday. Some quick thoughts on where the roster currently stands:
1. What are they going to do with all the running backs?
It looks like the Browns are going to have a wealth of riches in the backfield, as along with Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and D'Earnest Johnson, they also have Demetric Felton and rookie Jerome Ford. It looks like Felton may have the KR/PR spot locked up with the early injury to Jakeem Grant, and we know what the roles of Chubb and Hunt are, but where do Johnson and Ford slide in? There's only one ball, so it seems that this may be a spot where the Browns might use one of them for a trade because.....
2. The wide receiver room looks thin
Outside of Amari Cooper, the Browns have no proven talent, only potential. While Donovan Peoples-Jones looked solid at points last year, his ceiling is unclear. Anthony Schwartz appears to have developed a case of the drops. I'm pulling for the kid, as you never want to see a Browns player go through what he dealt with this preseason, and his speed is needed to open up the offense, but if you can't catch the ball, speed is pointless.
The rest of the room consists of rookies in David Bell and Michael Woods II. If Cooper goes down, the Browns are back to the WR's who struggled late last season and rookies. I expect some type of move to bring in a veteran wideout. While many people have DPJ penciled in at WR No. 2, I think after Cooper, it's a crapshoot. The Browns didn't do anything at WR outside of Cooper and the draft, so it's up to one of the young guys to come in and snatch the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, or someone who is brought in via a trade might be the answer and would give the youngsters a little time to grow.
3. While thin at spots, the defense looks primed for a big year
The Browns have the stars at the defensive end position with Jadaveon Clowney and Myles Garrett, and the defensive backfield is stacked with names like Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome, John Johnson, Greedy Williams and Grant Delpit.
The linebacker spot features rising star Jeremiah Owusu-Koramorah, but in my opinion, the middle of the defensive line, and the rest of the linebacker core could use some help. Guys like Tommy Togiai, Jordan Elliot, and Perrion Winfrey have to prove they can hold down the middle of the line while linebackers Sione Takitaki, Anthony Walker Jr. and Jacob Phillips have to prove they can back up the defensive line against the run.
4. The center position
The injury to Nick Harris put the Browns in a quandary at the center position, as they were relying on him to replace JC Tretter. Then, any chance of resigning Tretter after the injury to Harris was squashed, as Tretter retired. Ethan Pocic is faced with a big task, and it's unclear if he's ready to man the center position. While really good centers aren't easy to come by, the Browns may need to make a move to shore up the position and give the team some depth.
5. The quarterback spot
Eleven weeks. That's how long the Browns have to man the QB position until Deshaun Watson returns from suspension. In his minimal preseason action, Jacoby Brissett and the offense didn't look great. Granted, its preseason and head coach Kevin Stefanski likely didn't want to show too much, but Schwartz didn't help their cause, and players like Chubb, Hunt and Cooper didn't play, but the offense looked similar to what was ran last year, with a lot of short throws and no explosiveness in the passing game. While he has looked better in his preseason games than Brissett in his one start, Josh Dobbs also played against a lot of players who won't be starters or even in the NFL. That being said, he's fun to watch
If the Browns offense, particularly Brissett, struggles out of the gate, the calls for Dobbs to play are going to grow louder and louder. The problem is he's thrown 17 career passes and no matter what any Browns fan tells you, we have no idea what he really is.
Would I like to see him against first-team defenses? Sure. Do I want it to be because Brissett isn't good enough or is injured? No. But every backup in the NFL is just one injury away from playing, so let's hope that what we've seen from Dobbs in the preseason isn't due to playing against lower tier competition, and he can play a little. We know as Browns fans, anything can happen, and Dobbs starting at some point during the 11-game suspension of Watson is a possibility.
The Browns are in a strange spot heading into the 2022 season. They finally found their QB, but he won't play for the first 11 games. The team, especially Brissett, needs to hold it down until he returns, so they can make a possible playoff run. While the strength of the team is clearly the running game and defense, especially the ends and backfield, it remains to be seen if the areas the team is thin/inexperienced at, such as wide receiver and defensive tackle, can hold up.
I believe the Browns will make a move at at least at the wide receiver and defensive tackle spot, but the season is going to depend on how well Brissett can hold down the QB spot until Watson returns. Even then, Watson may need to shake off some rust after only playing a little in the preseason and not playing in a regular season game since 2020.
With all the drama that's surrounded this team in the offseason, and our new QB not being able to play for 11 games, some people are saying this is a lost season. Lets hope not, but we are about to see.
The mighty Cleveland Browns are back, and I can't wait to see how this season plays out. Here. We. Go.
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