Most Exciting: Gary Barnidge
It’s tough for a tight end to be the most exciting player. But Barnidge was the lone bright spot on a dismal offense. He topped 1,000 yards, becoming only the third tight end in Browns history to do so, and broke Ozzie Newsome‘s single season touchdown record for tight ends in the process. When there was a big play or a circus catch to be made, it was Barnidge that stepped up in the absence of a playmaker.
It’s tough to pick which of his one handed or “butt catches” are his best, but this season was a special one for the veteran tight end.
Biggest Impact on 2016: The regression of the defense forces more changes
The Browns defense came into the season as the highest paid unit in the NFL. Big free-agent additions like Randy Starks and Tramon Williams were supposed to push this group over the top. Improvement by younger players like Barkevious Mingo and rookies like Danny Shelton and Nate Orchard was supposed to complete a top five defense.
Instead, Joe Haden got hurt and even when healthy, performed so poorly that it didn’t hurt much when he landed on injured reserve. The weekly routine of Tramon Williams getting beat on deep balls showed whey the former Pakcer was always a No. 2 corner. Danny Shelton looked overmatched early and the run defense was so bad, that it spent much of the year dead last in the NFL. By the end of the year, the defensive rankings were at best, a train wreck:
27th in Total Yards Allowed
22nd in Passing Yards Allowed
30th in Rushing Yards Allowed
29th in Points Allowed
22nd in Takeaways
28th in Sacks
21st in Forced Fumbles
29th in Rec TD’s Allowed
20th in 3rd Down Conversions
With stats like that, it’s no wonder the Browns struggled the way that they did.
I’d say that’s a pretty poor return on investment for this club.