Cleveland Browns 2020 Regular Season Thread

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Vee-Rex

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I can see 9 wins out of that schedule, which has a much higher chance in a playoff berth with the new 14-team playoffs.
 

Jordan

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I can see 9 wins out of that schedule, which has a much higher chance in a playoff berth with the new 14-team playoffs.
I honestly see nine wins to be the absolutely maximum. It’s a really tough schedule, we have a new coach with a new scheme, and will have at least three new starters on offense and four on defense. And this is before taking COVID-19 into account...

In terms of the potential window of results, this Browns team has more variance this season than last season. I’m guessing 7-9 but with clear improvement on both sides of the ball.

The only way I see them winning nine games or more is if Baker improves on his rookie campaign.
 

Vee-Rex

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I honestly see nine wins to be the absolutely maximum. It’s a really tough schedule, we have a new coach with a new scheme, and will have at least three new starters on offense and four on defense. And this is before taking COVID-19 into account...

In terms of the potential window of results, this Browns team has more variance this season than last season. I’m guessing 7-9 but with clear improvement on both sides of the ball.

The only way I see them winning nine games or more is if Baker improves on his rookie campaign.
You think that's a tough schedule? I don't think so. Obviously things can easily change (like it did last year with teams like the 49ers being tougher teams than expected) but as of right now it doesn't look difficult to me. Only a single one of those teams (besides Baltimore) won 10 games last year, and that team just lost its best offensive player in Deandre Hopkins. Whereas last year we played 4 10+win teams not including Baltimore.

Maybe you're overvaluing the Titans? They're still a slightly above-average team to me, nothing more. Still, there isn't a single elite team on there besides Baltimore.
 

Jordan

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You think that's a tough schedule? I don't think so. Obviously things can easily change (like it did last year with teams like the 49ers being tougher teams than expected) but as of right now it doesn't look difficult to me. Only a single one of those teams (besides Baltimore) won 10 games last year, and that team just lost its best offensive player in Deandre Hopkins. Whereas last year we played 4 10+win teams not including Baltimore.

Maybe you're overvaluing the Titans? They're still a slightly above-average team to me, nothing more. Still, there isn't a single elite team on there besides Baltimore.
Steelers, Ravens, Cowboys, Eagles, and Titans will all be over .500 this year, no question. I also think road against Bengals and Giants are scary.

But my point has much less to do with schedule and much more to do with variance in-house. I was beating this drum all summer last year, but new coaches are the second-highest variance thing you can add in the NFL, only behind a new QB. This is combined with replacing 27% of offensive starters and 36% of defensive starters.

The team is just highly variable. I do not want to be a party pooper, but I see way too many scenarios that need to go right for variance to end in our favor. New coach, new offensive scheme, being unclear about what Baker Mayfield is, and a bunch of new players is just a lot to overcome. If one of those goes wrong it is costing us at least one win, and maybe more.
 
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Jack Brickman

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I could easily see the Steelers being under .500 if Ben gets hurt again or if he comes back and looks like shit, which he very well might. Eagles and Titans could easily end up with losing records too.

I'm guessing the Ravens and Cowboys will have winning seasons, but I could certainly see several of those teams having down years. It's the NFL. Shit happens every year.
 

Amherstcavsfan

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We haven't discussed enough how absolutely pathetic the Cowboys secondary is and how their new DC, Dom Capers, is way past his prime.
 

Vee-Rex

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Steelers, Ravens, Cowboys, Eagles, and Titans will all be over .500 this year, no question. I also think road against Bengals and Giants are scary.

But my point has much less to do with schedule and much more to do with variance in-house. I was beating this drum all summer last year, but new coaches are the second-highest variance thing you can add in the NFL, only behind a new QB. This is combined with replacing 27% of offensive starters and 36% of defensive starters.

The team is just highly variable. I do not want to be a party popper, but I see way too many scenarios that need to go right for variance to end in our favor. New coach, new offensive scheme, being unclear about what Baker Mayfield is, and a bunch of new players is just a lot to overcome. If one of those goes wrong it is costing us at least one win, and maybe more.
1. Any variance in-house is likely to have a net positive effect, given that our coaching last year was completely disastrous. If we were going from mediocre coaching then you'd have a point... but I don't see Stefanski being as bad as Freddie, especially since his offense is looking to be what we've wanted/screamed for all along.

2. You're talking about replacing starters even though we will be running different schemes so it's not like continuity truly matters. We're replacing Hubbard with Conklin as the RT. We're replacing Njoku/Seals with Hooper as the starting TE. We're replacing G-Rob with SOMEONE who is likely to be better, draft or trade/free agency. On the defense we lost Schobert and Randall. Schobert might be the most impactful, but we'll see.

3. Not once did I say we were going to win 9 games. You're arguing as if I guaranteed it. I said I CAN SEE 9 wins in that schedule. You're not popping any parties here, bro.
 

Jordan

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1. Any variance in-house is likely to have a net positive effect, given that our coaching last year was completely disastrous. If we were going from mediocre coaching then you'd have a point... but I don't see Stefanski being as bad as Freddie, especially since his offense is looking to be what we've wanted/screamed for all along.
This just is not true. That is not how variance works. Variance is the range of possible outcomes. For example, one of the possible outcomes is that the lack of installation time due to COVID-19 results in Stefanski not being able to install his wide-zone scheme or that Hubbard has to start at left tackle.

Another degree of variance is that the left tackle we draft is not ready to start on day one. This is actually fairly likely, as statistically speaking, left tackle rookies are generally net negative rookies or not ready to start whatsoever.


What if Stefanski cannot fix Baker?

I know fans want to believe in-house variance = good; but that is not what variance means or how it works. Variance is the range of outcomes of a variable from its mean. I.E., Stefanski could be substantially better than Freddie, and the team finish with the exact same record. They may be better or worse, too. We just do not know and new coaches bring in a ton of variance, especially young ones.

2. You're talking about replacing starters even though we will be running different schemes so it's not like continuity truly matters. We're replacing Hubbard with Conklin as the RT. We're replacing Njoku/Seals with Hooper as the starting TE. We're replacing G-Rob with SOMEONE who is likely to be better, draft or trade/free agency. On the defense we lost Schobert and Randall. Schobert might be the most impactful, but we'll see.
Scheme and continuity are two independent variables that may or may not correlate together, but do not necessarily cause each other.

Hooper is a better fit for an outside-zone scheme, sure, but it is not clear how much of a value improvement over Njoku he actually is. As I stated above, it is unclear that our starting left tackle will be better than Greg Robinson, that is an assumption you are making.

Honestly, the bigger problem to me is that the positions where we improved (right tackle and tight end) tend to be low-value positions for individual player replacements.

The majority of improvement is going to have to come from Baker. I think it will. But he held on to the ball for a very long period of time last season. Many of his sacks were his fault. Stefanski's offense should help this, and I believe it will, but again - variance. It is possible that Baker cannot repeat his rookie year. I had Baker as the 21st best quarterback in the NFL last season. If he can improve to the 11-13 range, though, then I absolutely can see the Browns being a playoff team. But, variance. I do not think a ten-spot improvement is the mean outcome, but a top-25 percentile one.

3. Not once did I say we were going to win 9 games. You're arguing as if I guaranteed it. I said I CAN SEE 9 wins in that schedule. You're not popping any parties here, bro.
Not at all. Sorry if it came off that way.

I understand what you said. I am saying that I think that is a high-end outcome because variance makes results unclear. My bayesian updating suggests the true talent of the team last year was probably closer to the first year than last year, but I am not 100% sure on that, and I am even less sure that the team can improve on that outcome.
 

Vee-Rex

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This just is not true. That is not how variance works. Variance is the range of possible outcomes. For example, one of the possible outcomes is that the lack of installation time due to COVID-19 results in Stefanski not being able to install his wide-zone scheme or that Hubbard has to start at left tackle.
That's a possible variance, but no one can calculate the likelihood. What I DO know is that in 2019 our scheme was so ridiculously inefficient and implemented that we took a team talented enough to win the superbowl and only won 6 games. Week by week we would throw away our gameplans.

I'm not pretending nothing can go wrong, I'm comparing it to a year when EVERYTHING not named Chubb went wrong. Baker, OBJ, o-line, d-line, CBs, coaching... it all went wrong, and we finished 6-10.

Another degree of variance is that the left tackle we draft is not ready to start on day one. This is actually fairly likely, as statistically speaking, left tackle rookies are generally net negative rookies or not ready to start whatsoever.

We have no idea if the left tackle we draft will start. We have no idea if we will sign Peters or another LT that can start. We have no idea if we'll make a trade. What we DO know is that our options leave very little room for the LT we have to be as bad as G-Rob. That's what we're comparing here. We're not looking at the variances that can go wrong. That's a deep rabbit hole that could turn out in a myriad of ways - not only for the Browns but for every team in the NFL.

What we're using as a baseline is the clusterfuck that was last year. How much worse can get it? Think about that - besides Chubb and Priefer's ST (which was decent), how much worse can it get?

What if Stefanski cannot fix Baker?
Baker doesn't need 'fixing'. He's not broken at all - he was severely misutilized. He has room to improve for sure, but I don't think it gets worse for him. We saw the bottom for him.

I know fans want to believe in-house variance = good; but that is not what variance means or how it works. Variance is the range of outcomes of a variable from its mean. I.E., Stefanski could be substantially better than Freddie, and the team finish with the exact same record. They may be better or worse, too. We just do not know and new coaches bring in a ton of variance, especially young ones.
I think in a vacuum you are generally right, but any Browns fan can watch last season and see that our 6 wins were just on talent alone. Just about everything that could've gone badly actually went badly.

Hooper is a better fit for an outside-zone scheme, sure, but it is not clear how much of a value improvement over Njoku he actually is. As I stated above, it is unclear that our starting left tackle will be better than Greg Robinson, that is an assumption you are making.
Again, I'm not guaranteeing anything. We could snag Travis Kelce or George Kittle and your argument about variance would still hold. That's kind of a funky way to look at it. Same with G-Rob (who was awful btw) - we could get the best LT from last year and your argument about variance would still hold.

That's just a weird way to look at it, particularly as a counter-argument against someone (me) who made no guarantees. I only said it's likely the LT we acquire is better than G-Rob. Obviously we have the entire offseason to see if we improve there but the front office is doing everything right so far.

I think you're pushing statistics without context. Variance is real, but how do you measure the likelihood of variance to swing one way or the other? Roll a die 10 times. The Browns went 1, 5, 1, 1, 1, 3, 1, 2, 1, 1. That's how I see last year - practically everything went wrong. Repeat the process and sure, maybe the 5 becomes a 3 but it's unlikely you'll get as many 1's.

If the team goes 6-10 when everything goes badly, does that mean they can get worse if they improve in almost every foreseeable area? Absolutely. We could go 4-12 next year. However, when we break down what went wrong last year (primarily coaching, which had a domino effect on every part of the offense), the likelihood it all happens that way again seems low to me.

No guarantees, but I don't see the coaching being as bad as it was with Freddie.
 

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