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NFL Draft

What Must Happen For Browns To Win Super Bowl?

  • The Draft Network
  • August 25, 2020
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Welcome to the 2020 installment of the “How Your Favorite Team Won The Super Bowl” Series.

In this adventure, we’ll take a good, hard look at select NFL teams, show you their Super Bowl odds heading into the season, give you a little overview on what they’ve got to work with and what might be going on in their facility, then proclaim three key factors that must go in their favor in order for them to be crowned atop football’s Aggro Crag when all the confetti has settled.

For some, the list of variables that need to go right might not only be plausible, but expected. For others, their three factors might require a bit more creativity.

As we near the end of the series, we get to the root of what the Browns must do to go from disappointing Super Bowl underdogs to actual Super Bowl champions in 2020.

State of the Franchise

*No Role Modelz by J.Cole*

[Interlude: George W. Bush]

“There's an old saying in Tennessee—I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once… shame on… shame on you. Fool me, you can't get fooled again.”

We were all so ready to believe in the Browns. 

Following another disappointing 6-10 season, the Browns made history in the worst way in 2020, as their 17 seasons without a playoff berth became the longest streak since 1986, when the New Orleans Saints went 20 years without seeing the postseason. Though it isn’t quite the longest streak ever (yet), how did the Browns get here? I mean, I know how they got here, as the last 15 seasons have had very little to write home about, at any point. But the last two seasons were supposed to be different.

The Browns had the young, maturing defense, led by stars Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward. They had the No. 1 overall quarterback Baker Mayfield. They had acquired the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry to catch passes in their dynamic offense… all while having a young workhorse back like Nick Chubb in the backfield.

6-10?

Turns out their now ex-head coach Freddie Kitchens couldn’t handle the pressures of being an NFL head coach. Now the Browns hope they have someone who can.

Former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski now takes the headset for a franchise that might not boast expectation from its previous season records, but it certainly does from its die-hard fan base.

Though it feels like fool’s gold to bet on the Browns a third year in a row after getting burned in back-to-back seasons, there is reason to believe they can not only end their postseason drought, but maybe make a run at the title. 

Preseason Super Bowl Odds

+3000 (T-15th via BetOnline)

WHAT MUST HAPPEN FOR BROWNS TO WIN THE SUPER BOWL

1. Stefanski Makes History

If Stefanski is going to make a Super Bowl in his first year as head coach, he’ll be just the sixth coach in NFL history to do so. If he’s going to not only make it to the Super Bowl but win it, he’ll be just the third coach in NFL history to do that.

George Seifert and Don McCafferty are the only two other coaches in NFL history to win championships in their first seasons, both of whom were following up legendary coaches who built historic rosters for their time. That’s not exactly the case in Cleveland, but it’s not like Stefanski is walking into a re-build, either.

Stefanski was able to work his magic as offensive coordinator of the Vikings that allowed quarterback Kirk Cousins to have one of his most aggressive, yet efficient seasons—8.1 yards-per-attempt, 69% completion percentage with a 5.9 touchdown percentage and just a 1.4 interception percentage, both of which were career bests given the number of starts.

Mayfield needs some of that guidance. The Browns promoted Kitchens last season, not because he was the most qualified man for the job, but because they didn’t want to lose any momentum he and the team’s young franchise quarterback had. Turns out that wasn’t the right move. But the motive to build the team’s decision around their former No. 1 overall pick wasn’t.

Stefanski should be the right man for the job, but can he be historic?

2. The Better Browns Baker 

Mayfield took a step back in his sophomore year.

After completing nearly 64% of his passes, throwing for more 3,700 yards with 27 passing touchdowns and 14 interceptions with a 7.7 yards-per-attempt average as a rookie—all in just 14 games—Mayfield’s completion percentage dipped below 59%, he threw for almost 500 fewer yards, threw just 22 touchdowns to 21 interceptions, and saw his yards-per-attempt dip to 7.7 in 16 games played.

The efficiency, the confidence, and the production just weren't there.

When Mayfield is at his best, he’s a gunslinger. He was fearless as Oklahoma’s passer, which is why his team made it to the College Football Playoff and is why he has a Heisman Trophy sitting in his trophy case. It’s why the Browns wanted him No. 1 overall in 2018.

But this is a crucial year for Mayfield. In order to have the highlight throws, you have to do the little things to set them up. I don’t think Kitchens understood that the way we hope Stefanski does. 

Beckham Jr., Landry, Chubb, and David Njoku are all still there. They’ve added tight end Austin Hooper and drafted Jedrick Wills with their top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to help the offensive line.

Cleveland’s schedule is favorable in 2020 (fourth easiest). Mayfield needs to take advantage.

3. Landry Becomes Stefanski’s new slot prototype

There have been countless debates as to whether or not Landry is a top wide receiver. Some see him as just a slot (and a limited one). Others see him as a reliable player who can play a variety of different roles at receiver, even if he isn’t overly explosive while playing them. I tend to be more on the latter (maybe even believing in him more than that), and I believe Landry has a chance to really shine in Stefanski’s offense.

Stefanski is coming over from Minnesota where he had weapons like Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen at his disposal in the passing game every week. Though those two aren’t carbon copies for Landry, Stefanski's ability to manufacture space for those two players, especially with the use of play-action, was a big reason why the Vikings finished as a top-10 offense in the NFL in 2019.

Beckham is going to bounce back. I really don’t have any doubt about that, as long as he is healthy. But I really do feel like Landry is in for one of his best years yet under an offensive mind who knows how to produce with receivers who thrive in space.

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