Each week, theScore will go division by division, highlighting which three players’ performances will most impact their team’s season in 2017.
Coleman looked set for a spectacular rookie season after posting 173 yards and two touchdowns on just seven catches over the first few weeks of the season, showcasing his game-breaking speed. Then a hand injury forced him to sit out until Week 9, and once he returned, he failed to break 50 receiving yards in any of the remaining eight games and found the end zone just once.
With Terrelle Pryor now in Washington, the Browns desperately need the former first-round pick to find his feet quickly. Kenny Britt should help ease the loss, too, but Coleman is the X-factor of this offense. Cleveland tied for 22nd in pass plays of 20 yards or more, a disappointment after the team spent the 15th overall pick on a deep threat.
Whether it’s Cody Kessler, DeShone Kizer, or even Brock Osweiler under center, this offense will be tough to watch unless Coleman makes a significant leap in his development.
Garrett, this year’s No. 1 overall pick, said in mid-May that he knows he can’t be the Browns’ savior and that it’ll take more than just him to turn the team around. Though that’s true, Cleveland’s bet big on Garrett being an instant-impact player capable of single-handedly destroying opponents’ game plans by himself.
The Browns opted to take the consensus No. 1 pick over a quarterback, but not only was Garrett the best player in the draft, he’s the perfect fit for the Browns’ needs. Their defense was one of the worst in the league thanks in part to an inability to rush the passer – only the Raiders posted fewer sacks than Cleveland’s 26.
If Garrett can be a double-digit sack guy out of the gate, the Browns have a chance to surprise people in 2017.
The main storyline of Cleveland’s training camp will be the battle for the starting quarterback job. Regardless of who wins it, however, the Browns will be a run-first team – and for good reason.
Over the last three weeks of the 2016 season, Cleveland averaged 154 rushing yards per game, behind only the Bills. While the Browns were an average running team over the course of the entire season, the late surge bodes well for 2017.
After an unremarkable first two seasons in the NFL, Crowell looked like a new man in 2017, finishing the year just shy of 1,000 yards and averaging 4.8 yards per carry. The Browns likely won’t win too many games in 2017, but the ones they do win will require more outstanding efforts from Crowell and his running mate, Duke Johnson.
(Photo courtesy: Action Images)
Also from this series
- 3 players who will have the biggest impact on the Steelers’ season
- 3 players who will have the biggest impact on the Ravens’ season
- 3 players who will have the biggest impact on the Bengals’ season
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