This was a flawed team in many aspects, but pulled it together more times than not. Head coach Kevin Stefanski eventually utilized five different starting quarterbacks. The most successful of the quintet was 16-year pro Joe Flacco, who led the team to four straight wins late in the year.
Still, Cleveland turned over the ball a league-high 37 times and that caught up with them in the playoff vs. the Texans. Can this team build off 2023? The last time the Browns reached the postseason in consecutive years was nearly four decades ago (1985-89).
What’s Next for the Cleveland Browns?
It was a big bounce back year for a team that fell back to its losing ways the previous two seasons. This was not only a playoff team in 2020, but the Browns came up with a 48-37 rout of the Steelers at Pittsburgh in the wild card playoffs. Cleveland played the Super Bowl-bound Chiefs tough in the divisional round, but fell on the road, 22-17.
The next two years, the Browns finished below .500 and in 2022, brought up the rear in the AFC North with a 7-10 mark. Now Stefanski and company has this program back on the winning track, this despite numerous changes at quarterback.
Of course, the Browns got a big boost from the league’s top-ranked defense, although Jim Schwartz’s unit hardly looked the part in the 45-14 playoff loss at Houston.
Biggest Offseason Concern?
What to make of the Deshaun Watson situation? The organization gave up plenty to obtain him from the Texans in 2022, this after he was inactive for the entire 2021 season. He served a 11-game league suspension that first year with the club, then started the final six games of the season. This past campaign, injuries limited the seven-year pro to just a half-dozen outings.
In 12 games with the Browns, Watson has thrown for a combined 2,217 yards and 14 scores, while turning over the ball 13 times. He totaled five fumbles in six games in 2023, losing two of those miscues. Hence, he has played in only a dozen games since 2021.
When it came to Watson, Stefanski recently stated that (via May Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com) “he’s doing great in his rehab. I’m confident he'll be ready to roll.”
If the Browns are to return to the playoffs in 2024, they need this talented performer to quickly regain his Pro Bowl form.