As the NFL season miraculously approaches, speculation runs rampant. Will the 2020 season be dramatically affected by Covid-19? Will everything run as normal? This could be a tough season for rookies, with no preseason and very little practice time compared to a standard NFL season. For the Cleveland Browns, this is a massive season. Another new regime is set, complete with head coach Kevin Stefanski and the three most vital pieces of the Browns. These players will represent the faces of the 2020 Cleveland Browns and the future of the franchise.
Faces of the 2020-2021 Cleveland Browns
1. Baker Mayfield, Quarterback
As Baker Mayfield enters his third NFL season, he is faced with plenty of scrutiny from both NFL media and fans. After a record breaking rookie season he had a definite sophomore slump in 2019, throwing 21 interceptions and leading a hyped up Browns squad to only six wins. However, he is not entirely to blame. Last year’s Head Coach Freddie Kitchens was an absolute disaster as a play caller. There was no rhythm to the offense and wideout Odell Beckham struggled through the season with injuries.
This season is huge for Mayfield. There is no doubt he must be better, but so must the players around him and his coaching staff. He will have a camera focused on his every move, both on and off the field. All reports from training camp have indicated that he is focused on improving in 2020, and he has already shown outstanding rapport with rookie tight end Harrison Bryant. Mayfield is a gunslinger and a high risk, high reward type player. This season it is going to be on his shoulders to limit mistakes and improve at going through his progressions to find the right throw. As the quarterback, he is the most heavily scrutinized player on the offense, and therefore, definitely one of the three faces of the team.
2. Nick Chubb, Running Back
Though running backs are considered a dime a dozen in today’s NFL, Nick Chubb is truly a standout player. He possesses an incredibly rare combination of power and finesse as a runner and continues to improve as a pass catcher. In 2019, Chubb posted 1,494 rushing yards on 5 yards per tote, along with 36 receptions. The Browns are at their best when Nick Chubb touches the ball 20-25 times per game.
He consistently breaks through arm tackles and finds the hole between the tackles, and he is quite explosive for a 230 lb. back. He also provides zero distraction off the field. Chubb is as humble and quiet as they come, which is perfect on an offense with strong personalities like Mayfield, Beckham and Jarvis Landry.
Cleveland’s offense has potential to be special in 2020, and Nick Chubb is the focal point of that potential. He is the best player on the offense, potentially even the best player on the entire team. If he can replicate or even surpass last season’s effort, the Browns have a legitimate shot at a playoff run.
3. Myles Garrett, Defensive End
If Chubb is not the Browns best player, Myles Garrett certainly is. One of the premier young pass rushers in the NFL, he registered 10 sacks in as many games last season. Garrett is fresh off serving a six-game suspension for a now infamous incident involving Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph.
Garrett was Cleveland’s first overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, and all he has done is rack up 30.5 sacks in 35 starts for the team. He is the leader of a young Browns defense and will look to grow under new defensive coordinator Joe Woods. An absolute freak of nature physically, Garrett is a horrifying sight for opposing quarterbacks as he attacks offensive linemen with both speed and power. Garrett can bull rush with ease and also has one of the better swim moves in the league. A mild improvement in run defense for Garrett would be a welcome sight, but he is decent in run support already and makes up for it by being an elite pass rusher. If Garrett continues at his current pace, his No. 95 will one day be retired by the franchise.