The Cleveland Browns are coming off their best season in almost 20 years. They went 11-5 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Baker Mayfield had the best season of his career, throwing for 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Considering the season they had, Browns fans are optimistic about 2021. There's no way to go but up after that season. Is that really the case, though?
Here are three reasons why the Cleveland Browns will struggle to replicate the exploits of their 2020 season.
3 reasons the Cleveland Browns do not have a complete team
#1 - Little playoff experience
Yes, the Cleveland Browns were a playoff team last season. So, by definition, everyone on the 2020 roster has a small amount of playoff experience. However, the Cleveland Browns were eliminated in their first playoff game. Their postseason run was short-lived, to say the least.
The NFL postseason requires playoff experience to ensure a deep run. The stress of the entire season ending at any moment looms and needs to be managed in the hustle and bustle of the playoffs.
Teams without a history of competing in the playoffs rarely go all the way. The mental toughness that comes with the scars of the postseason is an essential tool, something the Browns have very little of.
#2 - Their top players come from non-winning franchises
If a team has a lot of pieces that have been winning their entire career, the team will win early and often. However, if a team has a lot of pieces that come from losing backgrounds, winning becomes an achievement for the team as a wh.
When winning becomes an achievement, championships and truly great accomplishments feel that much farther away or unattainable deep in the minds of players.
This is a big reason why teams tend to stay stuck in their place for a long time. The Cleveland Browns are in a boat where their players are not used to winning and it will take some growth to overcome.
Nick Chubb, Odell Beckham Jr., and Jarvis Landry are arguably the most important players on the team not named "Baker Mayfield." While Chubb is a great running back who earned 1000 yards in 2020, he has played with the Cleveland Browns his entire career.
The Browns have been under .500 in two of his three seasons. Winning in the NFL is new to Chubb and he will need to get used to it in order to be one of the best in the NFL.
Odell Beckham Jr. comes from the New York Giants, who only made the playoffs once. He has only been a part of two winning teams in his career. When winning becomes that rare, losing becomes the comfort zone. With another winning season, he could have a new comfort zone with winning.
Jarvis Landry also only had one winning season before landing with the Cleveland Browns. He also needs to get used to winning before being the force the Browns need in the playoffs in order to win a Super Bowl.
#3 - Linebacker is a massive hole
While the majority of the Cleveland Browns' issues stem from the psychological fallout of now being a winning team, they also have a massive problem on their roster. Their middle linebackers need a new face.
Anthony Walker is 26 years old and coming off a season in which he earned a 48.0 PFF grade. Sione Takitaki played decently in 2020, earning a 71.2 PFF grade.
However, if anything happens to Takitaki, the middle linebacking corps will be a turnstile for tight ends, running backs, and most receivers over the middle. The Cleveland Browns need to plug this hole.