The Browns are a Tier 1 offense according to PFF.
The Browns appear to be among the best offenses in the NFL, at least according to PFF, who put the Browns in their Tier 1 division. The article PFF released looked at the teams and their expectations for the upcoming season and placed the team based on those expectations accordingly. Joining the Browns in this tier of higher expectations are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Green Bay Packers, and the Buffalo Bills.
The problem with their evaluation of the Browns is their underappreciation of Browns’ starting quarterback Baker Mayfield, who PFF describes as a “work in progress”. Their analysis of him “struggling badly” in a few games is broad and limited. Mayfield had his worst games in truly terrible weather conditions that affected men like Deshaun Watson just as badly as it did Mayfield.
Granted, they’re not as hard on Mayfield as other critics tend to be, and it’s fair to say his true ceiling is unknown because it is. He’s far from a problem, and even PFF admits this, stating that he was a top-five quarterback in the second half of 2020.
"The Browns are the first team in the top tier of NFL offenses without a sure-fire stud at the quarterback position. Baker Mayfield is still a work in progress at this point, and his true ceiling remains a moveable target. He struggled badly in some games early last year, but you can certainly mitigate those performances with real issues outside his control, such as a new system with no preseason to work on things.Mayfield earned a top-five PFF passing grade in the second half of the year, and the team has still yet to see the full impact of a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. on this offense. With the best offensive line in the league on paper and two elite running backs ready to exploit it, this offense has balance and depth — not to mention potential yet to be realized."
The Browns are a great offense but it has nothing to do with the receiving corps
The Browns receiving corp was very pedestrian last year and that’s something that often gets overlooked by people who never watched the Browns play but saw their roster page. In two seasons, Odell Beckham has had maybe one game where he completely took over. Jarvis Landry, one of the best receivers in the NFL through 2019, fell off hard in 2020 due to a major surgery on his hip. He and Beckham may never be the same again. Yet, they’re often credited with Mayfield’s success, despite the fact Mayfield has excelled without them at their best; if they’re even on the field at all.
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Another point of contention when judging Mayfield is the constant claims of how good the offensive line was. It was, to be clear. That had more to do with couching than talent, however. The offensive line only saw two players, Joel Bitonio and J.C. Tretter, play every regular-season game in 2020, with everyone else missing at least one game at different times. That wouldn’t be so bad, as Chris Hubbard really impressed in a backup role for the Browns, but even he missed a lot of time.
The offensive line never missed a beat despite the occasional talent shuffle but there were a lot of guys going in and out of the lineup throughout the year. Why Mayfield isn’t given credit for playing behind a patchwork line at times is beyond me. Heck, he even met one of his teammates the day of a game.
PFF and others need to recognize that Mayfield was a much more regular part and consistent part of the offense than they want to make him out to be.