The most talented Browns offense in recent memory – at least on paper – took the field with a certain swagger that Berea hasn't seen in several years.
Cleveland’s revamped unit looked fast and sharp Wednesday afternoon as fast and sharp gets for the second day of OTAs. And while neither of those dynamics will matter much if the Browns can’t produce on the field next season, players are feeling bullish about an offense filled with new faces in a new system under first-year coordinator Todd Haley.
“(This is) a very talented team. I knew that before coming here,” said quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who spent the past three seasons in Buffalo. “Excited to play with a bunch of guys once I found out that I had been traded here, a group that’s very talented, to make a bunch of big plays and win a bunch of big games if the mindset is right. That’s what we’re doing now. Changing the mindset and working hard each and every day.”
The Browns’ offense is a mix of new faces and returning talent. Cleveland executed trades for Taylor, Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry and signed former 49ers running back Carlos Hyde (who’s coming off back-to-back seasons of at least 1,000 all-purpose yards) at the start of the new league year. In the draft, the Browns tabbed their quarterback-of-the-future in Baker Mayfield at No. 1 overall, grabbed running back Nick Chubb at No. 35 and then picked up speedy former Florida receiver Antonio Callaway (considered a first-round talent by some draft analysts) in the fourth round.
Coming back to Cleveland are weapons like running back Duke Johnson (who had a breakout campaign in 2017 with 1,000-plus all-purpose yards), wide receiver Josh Gordon (the former league’s leading receiver who returned from a three-year suspension late last season) second-year tight end David Njoku (the 29th overall pick in 2017) and wide receiver Corey Coleman (the 15th overall pick in 2016).
Moreover, players described Haley’s offense as an empowering one that should give its playmakers the opportunity to shine.
“It’s a player-driven offense,” Taylor said. “I believe that we have the weapons and the talent on the offensive side of the ball to go out there and make explosive plays … It allows everyone to be free.”
“The main thing out of Coach Haley is get the guys the ball, get the playmakers the ball,” Landry added. “This offense does that.”
Considering OTAs mostly serve as an opportunity for Cleveland to install its new offensive system, Taylor said the Browns have been studying tape of the Steelers’ units, which were guided by Haley the past six seasons. Under his supervision and a cast of star players, Pittsburgh emerged as one of the NFL’s top offensive teams.
The hope, of course, is that translates to Cleveland.
“It should be fun. Especially with Coach Haley coming and the guys that we’ve brought in on offense to help this team, I believe it’ll be fun to watch,” Johnson said. “We’re still in the early stages so we are still trying to get everything together and get on one page. Once we get this thing rolling, I think it’ll be fun.”
Indeed, there was plenty of optimism to go around during Wednesday’s practice. There is, however, still plenty of work to be done and chemistry to be built. None of this will matter if the Browns can't translate positive vibes into production this fall.
“If you look at the depth chart, there's talent at every position," Taylor said.
"It's our job to fine-tune the execution part of it each and every day and go out and play winning football on Sundays.”