There's still 17 weeks to go, but it's hard not to get excited by the Cleveland Browns' start to the 2023 season. Cleveland made its case as a potential Super Bowl contender in the opener by blowing out the Cincinnati Bengals, showing off a revamped defense and improved offense.
The Browns' busy offseason appears to be already be paying dividends, and there's a few moves in particular that look genius right now.
1. Bringing in Dustin Hopkins to replace Cade York
It was painfully obvious this preseason that Cleveland had a kicking problem. Cade York was already entering 2023 on shaky footing after his roller coaster of a 2022 campaign, though the team appeared willing to cut him some slack since he was only a rookie.
Despite having every opportunity to prove he was worth keeping around, though, York continued to miss routine kicks this summer, making a divorce necessary.
Cleveland quickly turned the page to veteran Dustin Hopkins, and he's been an incredible breath of fresh air. The 32-year-old nailed all three of his field goals in Week 1, connecting from 42, 34 and 43 yards out.
While these weren't highlight-reel kicks from deep, they're the exact kind of gimmes that York struggled with in 2022. York was only 9-of-12 from 30-39 yards last season, and 6-of-8 from 40-49. Those are the kicks that absolutely kill a team's momentum if they're missed.
Having someone who's consistent from such an important range is incredibly valuable, especially as Deshaun Watson and the offense are only getting started. Hopkins already appears more capable than York of being leaned upon for easy scores.