Browns Bye Week: Quarter Season Summary Report and Top Player With Andy B. and Tony C.

October 10, 2023

Andy Billman Tony Camino

Browns Reflections: A look back at the Browns first 4 games of the season

Observations of the offense:


There’s currently a massive disparity between what was expected with the talent on the roster and results on a consistent basis. Yes, there have been injuries, and the season-ending injury to Nick Chubb was devastating.  Chubb is the best player on the team, and he is the heart and soul of the team. 

Without the talent of Chubb, the running game has been nonexistent.  Jerome Ford is steady but is frankly not a number one back.  This has put tremendous pressure on the passing game.

Enter Deshaun Watson, who started the season with an average performance against the Bengals, a lousy game against the Steelers, and played one great game against the Titans.  The passing game in his last start was smooth, and he has a natural connection to Amari Cooper.  Unfortunately, Watson is sitting out with a shoulder injury, and rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, in his one start, was awful.  Watson’s return is now imperative for success on offense because of the loss of Chubb.

The offensive line, which to begin the season was never a concern, is now a daily discussion on what to expect from game to game, especially from left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr., who is having a poor start to the 2023 season.  What is even more alarming from the line is there are moments when even some of the best players, like Wyatt Teller and Joel Bitonio, are having rare bad moments. Center Ethan Pocic is also having issues.  Add that right tackle Jack Conklin is out for the season with rookie Dawand Jones, who is playing well.  The offensive line is a mystery right now of what to expect.

Finally, there’s the problem of playmakers on this team outside of Watson and Cooper.  Elijah Moore, who was expected to have a breakout season, has not done a thing and has been a negative on offense, especially on running plays.

The offensive play calling, which might be the biggest problem on Sundays, will be discussed below. 

In summary, there was a lot of promise to begin, but because of injuries and lack of production, there seems to be a growing theme of concern with the Cleveland offense.


The offense has been very inconsistent to start 2023, but they have faced the most adversity on the team by far. Losing Jack Conklin immediately is a bigger blow than people usually acknowledge, even though Dawand Jones looks solid as his replacement. In the midst of transitioning the offense to blend Nick Chubb and Deshaun Watson, Chubb suffered a season-ending injury, forcing the team to make significant decisions early on.

After finally having a breakthrough game against the Titans, Watson was forced to miss the Ravens game, putting the coaching staff in a tough position. They had to decide whether to continue building on the progress they made the previous week but with Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback or shift back to a run-centric offense for the week. Constantly switching between schemes is challenging for everyone and often results in mental errors and blown assignments.

The offensive line’s performance is the primary concern for the remainder of the season, both in pass protection and run blocking. Watson has historically performed at his best when he has time to throw and can extend plays with his legs. Aside from players simply getting beaten on their reps, there have been too many mental miscues from a unit with this much experience and financial investment. If they can return to their previous form, the offense should thrive for the rest of the year.

Observations of the defense:


This defense is the real deal, which is the result when Myles Garrett gets real help on the defensive line. The Ravens game had a minor setback due to a dominant performance by Lamar Jackson and their use of motions and pulling blockers to confuse the Browns, something they hadn’t encountered this year. However, the second-half adjustments suggest a promising outlook, and this unit is one to be excited about.

While the foundation of the defense lies in the defensive line, everyone on this side of the ball is holding their own. Denzel Ward, Martin Emerson, and Greg Newsome form an excellent cornerback trio, allowing Schwartz to employ heavy man-coverage thanks to their abilities. Grant Delpit has truly blossomed at the start of the year, and if he continues to perform at this level, the Browns’ secondary looks very formidable.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Anthony Walker have significantly benefited from Schwartz’s downhill defensive style, and their performance has improved dramatically compared to last year, thanks to the transformation of the defensive line. The defense is a major strength and has the potential to keep the team competitive in most games. The upcoming game against the 49ers will be a significant test for both the players and the coaching staff, as the 49ers possess talented skill players and one of the best offensive minds in football in Kyle Shanahan.


Throwing out one game against the Ravens, this unit has been excellent and, at times, elite throughout the first four games. 

The additions to the defensive line in the offseason have paid off with Za’Darius Smith, Maurice Hurst Jr, Dalvin Tomlinson, Ogbo Okoronkwo, and Shelby Smith.  All have contributed to the defense and made the D-line a strength on the club. 

And it has allowed the best player on defense, Myles Garrett, to have an excellent start to the 2023 season and he is playing at an all-pro level.  Garrett is no longer looking tired and out of position on defense like in 2022 because of the new additions. 

The linebackers and secondary are also off to a great start, led by the excellent play of Denzel Ward, Martin Emerson, and Grant Delpit. 

The only note for Brown’s defense is getting more turnovers.  They only have three turnovers so far in 2023.  With the issues going on the offensive side, turnovers might become a requirement for the defense for the Browns to get wins.

Observations of the coaching staff:


Browns GM Andrew Berry’s opening statement last week said it all.  In his annual press conference on a bye week, Berry gave praise for defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, and he’s right.  Schwartz has done a marvelous job turning around the unit.  Remember, in 2022, all of the miscommunication on defense throughout multiple games?  Schwartz has eliminated that in 2023 while giving this defense swagger and an attitude that gives results.  He has also unleashed the team’s best defender, Myles Garrett.  Take a bow, Schwartz—just an excellent start on the defense for the Cleveland Browns in 2023.

Berry then said that special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone has done a nice job on the kicking side of the special teams, which is also correct.  No more worries about field goals, as Dustin Hopkins has been eight out of nine in four games.  He has been excellent, and it is very nice not to have to discuss the kicker throughout the season.  Punting has been okay so far, and there have been no self-destructing punts in 2023.  There are no issues on the return game, and the lack of yards on kicks is frustrating, but no turnovers either.  So far, so good for Ventrone.

And then there’s Head Coach Kevin Stefanski.  It’s bizarre for a press conference to start with the general manager and not to lead off with the head coach or give a mountain of praise before getting to the assistants.  But that is also accurate to what has been happening with Stefanski in 2023.  It’s been non-noteworthy, aside from some frustration with play calling in-game and the failure to make in-game adjustments or adjustments overall to the club led by the defense.

Stefanski must realize this is a team led by a talented defense, and he must get the team thinking of field position more than explosive play calling, as it has yet to work consistently.  Also, Stefanski must become the head coach, not just an offensive play-caller.  Finally, Stefanski should rely more on his offensive coordinator, Alex Van Pelt, to help out on offense and allow Stefanski to coach the team.


On the offensive coaching side, 2023 has presented an incredible challenge, particularly with Deshaun Watson missing a game and Nick Chubb playing just over one game this year. Most of the offensive struggles can be attributed to a lack of execution rather than issues with the scheme. While incorporating more inside zone runs from the shotgun formation is crucial for developing an unstoppable RPO (Run-Pass Option) game, receivers are being schemed open, and running lanes are available if the players can execute their roles. Shifting more toward a full shotgun offense without Chubb seems like the right move, as it plays to Watson’s strengths, and he’s the catalyst for the team moving forward.

Defensively, Jim Schwartz has employed a relatively simple scheme this year, heavily relying on man coverage while only rushing four players. The talented pass rushers have still managed to generate pressure, and the defensive backs in the secondary are well-suited for man coverage. It will be intriguing to observe how the defensive scheme evolves when opposing teams begin to find success against their man coverage. However, the simplified approach allows the players to perform with freedom and speed.

Overall, the coaching staff is doing a commendable job in 2023, but there is still a lot of work to be done. The bye week arrived at an opportune moment and provided an opportunity for everyone to reset and determine their identity for the remainder of the year. The first game following the bye week is a tough one, and it will be interesting to see how the Browns handle a tough opponent like the 49ers.

Thoughts on the front office:


Andrew Berry has indeed excelled in assembling this team, and in my opinion, there are no complaints about his performance. Acquiring Za’Darius Smith and Amari Cooper for fifth-round picks is incredible value, and his focus on improving the defensive line during the offseason has been a great move. Ogbo Okornkwo may have flown under the radar a bit after the trade for Smith, but he has been equally if not more impressive and fits perfectly into Jim Schwartz’s defensive scheme, which prioritizes pressuring the quarterback with a four-man rush.

It’s important to recognize that no general manager can be perfect with every move, and the most significant miss at the moment appears to be choosing Jedrick Wills Jr. over Tristan Wirfs in the 2020 NFL Draft. However, Berry has remained composed and appears confident about the team’s direction moving forward. His alignment with Coach Stefanski is crucial, especially considering the historical tensions between the front office and coaching staff over roster decisions in the Browns’ past. Their cooperation is a positive sign for the team’s future prospects.


Andrew Berry has had some good moments and some decisions that don’t look as good.  The defensive pickups have been home runs, along with the defensive draft pick of Martin Emerson.  Rookie tackle Dawand Jones has also been a favorable draft pick.  The trade for kicker Dustin Hopkins and bringing in wide receiver Amari Cooper last year in a trade with Dallas have been perfect.

Then there’s the not-so-good trade of wide receiver Elijah Moore and the trade for a draft pick for backup QB Joshua Dobbs. Both don’t look good currently.  As Tony mentioned above, the Jederick Wills Jr. selection has not been good. 

For Berry, it’s been a typical general manager year in 2023.  Some good, some bad, but the talent is on the roster, so overall, he’s doing a good job.

Best Player on the Team Through First Four Games

Tony- Myles Garrett

Andy – Myles Garrett

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