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2021 NFL Team Preview: Cleveland Browns

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The Cleveland Browns finally got the monkey off their collective backs in 2020 by not only making the postseason but winning their first playoff game in 26 years. The Browns beat their divisional rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, during the Wild Card Round and gave the Kansas City Chiefs a big scare in the Divisional Round. 

After playing musical chairs with head coaches over the past several years, the Browns finally have their long-term man in Kevin Stefanski (The Daily Blitz). It’ll be interesting to see how much QB Baker Mayfield can improve in 2021 after a breakthrough year in 2020. Though the Browns are in the tough AFC North, don’t be surprised if they make back-to-back playoff appearances.

2021 Offense

QB Baker Mayfield finally solved his interception problems in 2020. The former Heisman Trophy winner tossed 26 touchdown passes and only eight picks while throwing for 3,563 yards. The 6-1 215 pound 26-year old possesses strong leadership skills and the charisma needed to be a great NFL QB.

The Browns should again have one of the best running back tandems in the league with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt toting the rock. Chubb is coming off his best NFL season as he found the end zone 12 times in 2020. Hunt is a great third-down back who scored six rushing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns last year. This strong rushing attack will help take the pressure off of Mayfield in 2021.

Cleveland’s receiving corps has some talented playmakers. Veteran wideout Odell Beckham Jr. will be back in 2021 after a gruesome ACL tear caused him to miss the last half of 2020. Jarvis Landry’s production should improve this season especially if Beckham can stay healthy. The Browns picked up a nice option at receiver by selecting Auburn standout Anthony Schwartz in the third round of the draft.

2021 Defense

The Browns were tough against the run in 2020 by limiting their opponents to just 110.8 yards per game on the ground (8th in the NFL). Myles Garrett continues to be one of the best pass rushers in the league and had 12 sacks last year. Cleveland also acquired Jadeveon Clowney in the offseason to help keep teams from doubling up on Garrett. Expect second-round pick, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, to help out in the pass rush as well.

You have to be impressed with the Cleveland front office. They knew they needed help in the secondary and addressed it by selecting Greg Newsome out of Northwestern in the first round of the draft. Newsome has the good size (6-1 190) and excellent ball skills necessary to be a starter at cornerback in Week 1.

2021 Special Teams

Donovan Peoples-Jones should handle the bulk of the punt and kick return duties for the Browns in 2021. The former Michigan star had 379 kick return yards last year. 

Cody Parkey will return as placekicker this season after making 19 out of 22 field-goal attempts in 2020. Punter Jamie Gillan will also return in 2021 after averaging 44 yards per punt last year.

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