In sports, certain franchises just seem to be cursed. The Kansas City Chiefs, for example, can’t seem to win a big game; the Buffalo Bills of the early 1990s, on the other hand, could make it to the big game but fell at the final hurdle. In the modern NFL, however, few franchises have struggled like the Cleveland Browns.
While countless football minds have tried to get the Browns back on track, former Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant believes he knows how the club could move things in the right direction. Is his advice grounded in reality, though?
The Cleveland Browns’ struggles continued in 2019
Coming into the 2019 NFL campaign, the Cleveland Browns were a trendy pick to come out of the AFC North. On the field, however, things didn’t go as planned.
The Browns opened the year with two wins and two losses, but, in Week 5, they started slipping down the standings. Cleveland dropped four straight games, but followed it up with three consecutive wins; after that, though, the bottom fell out again. The club finished the season 6-10, leaving the front office with more questions than answers.
After a promising rookie season, Baker Mayfield struggled; his completion percentage dropped, and the young quarterback seemed to get bogged down in off-the-field issues. Odell Beckham never found his stride and, before long, became the subject of trade rumors. Jermain Whitehead threatened a fan on social media, and, to cap it all off, head coach Freddie Kitchens lost his job after one year at the helm.
Dez Bryant offers his advice
Dez Bryant hasn’t played professional football since tearing his Achilles tendon in November 2018. The wide receiver, however, still has plenty of opinions about the NFL.
On New Year’s Eve, Bryant took to Twiter to share his plan to fix the Cleveland Browns. It consists of signing Eli Manning in free agency, poaching San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, and running a modified version of the 49ers offense using Manning, Beckham, and running back Nick Chubb.
Anyone can come up with a scheme and share it on Twitter, though. Are Bryant’s ideas really worth following?
Should the Cleveland Browns really listen to Dez Bryant?
Dez Bryant’s plan consists of three steps, and, for the ease of argument, we’ll look at each of those points individually.
First, Bryant wants the Cleveland Browns to sign Eli Manning. While the club could do that—Manning is finally a free agent after a decade and a half in New York—there’s no reason to do so. For all of his flaws, Baker Mayfield seems to have the makings of a competent NFL quarterback; even if he’s not the answer, a 39-year-old immobile Manning isn’t going to magically turn Cleveland into a contender.
The second point, hiring Robert Saleh, is possible, but still could be unlikely. While Browns have already interviewed the 49ers defensive coordinator, it’s unclear if he would be willing to take the job. It’s also worth remembering that there are plenty of talented coordinators who haven’t been able to cut it as the main man.
Bryant’s third idea, utilizing the 49ers offensive scheme, is also tough to truly assess. San Francisco uses a zone-running attack; once opposing defenses start packing the box, Kyle Shanahan starts mixing in other looks, like gap/power runs, bootlegs, and play-action passes. While the Cleveland Browns do have a talented young running back in Nick Chubb and an effective offensive line, the rest of their personnel doesn’t translate cleanly. When you have two 1000-yard receivers on the roster, it seems a bit wasteful to focus on running the ball. Could the offense be retooled in the 49ers’ image? Probably, but it wouldn’t be possible without great effort and some growing pains.
Only time will tell how the Cleveland Browns handle the offseason. If things don’t work out, though, maybe they can listen to Dez Bryant next year.