The Cleveland Browns could be entering the 2020 season with one of the most talented offensive units in the NFL—at least on paper. At wide receiver, they have two Pro Bowl players in Odell Beckham. Jr. and Jarvis Landry, both of whom are now recovered from groin injuries that they played through last season.
They have two Pro Bowlers in the backfield as well with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the latter of whom wasn’t fully utilized in 2019, since he was suspended for half the year. And now at tight end, they have Austin Hooper to add to David Njoku, who missed most of last season due to a wrist injury.
To add to that, they have two new tackles in Jack Conklin and first-round pick Jedrick Wills, to add to an interior that includes Joel Bitonio and J.C. Tretter. Right guard is still up for grabs—perhaps a spot at which Chris Hubbard could compete.
And then there’s Baker Mayfield, who was the offensive rookie of the year in 2018 but slid back some last season in a year in which the offense, really the team as a whole, was a bit of a mess. The point is, it’s far from unreasonable to assume he’s better than how he played in 2019.
Some might wonder if his biggest problem is just worrying about distributing the ball and keeping all of his skill players happy. It is something that the team has thought about, new head coach Kevin Stefanski has acknowledged, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com
“It’s definitely on our mind”, he said. “We know, having been on different teams with different offensive players, sometimes you have a great running back, great receiver or great tight end, and certainly, you have to be mindful and intentional about how you want to go about that while understanding that each week calls for a different game plan”.
It is something worth considering. Last season, Landy and Beckham dominated the touches in the passing game. They were the only two players to receive 50 or more targets all year, and between the two, they averaged about 135 touches, or about 8.5 targets per game.
Add to that two receiving tight ends in Hooper and Njoku and a running back with receiving ability like Hunt—he averaged 4.6 receptions per game last year—and you have a lot of targets, but still only one ball per play. Will everybody play ball? It might depend on whether or not they’re winning.