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Reviewing the O-Line: Browns maintain steady play in the trenches, strive to adjust with Watson

With two Pro Bowlers, the Browns continued to boast one of the league’s top offensive lines but will seek to better play in 2023 with the more mobile Deshaun Watson


The Browns are about a month removed from the 2022 season and making plans for improvements in 2023. Doing so, however, will require looking back at how each position fared, and we'll be doing that ourselves at with a comprehensive breakdown of each spot on the roster.

Next up: the O-Line

The Raw Numbers

Rushing yards per game: 146.5 (5th in NFL)

Sacks allowed: 44 (T-20th most in NFL)

Sack yards allowed: 266 (16th in NFL)

Analysis in 150 Words or Less

The Browns were largely able to uphold the typically-stout offensive line play they've sustained the last several years through most of the season and sent two players, guards Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller, to the Pro Bowl, with Bitonio also earning first-team All-Pro honors for the second straight year. The group was bolstered by the emergence of Ethan Pocic, who took over as the starting center when Nick Harris suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the first game of the preseason, but fell off slightly when Pocic was hurt from Weeks 12-15. After allowing just 24 sacks (2 sacks per game) in 11 games with QB Jacoby Brissett, the group needed time to adjust blocking for the more mobile Deshaun Watson, who was sacked 20 times in his six games. Those improvements will be perhaps the biggest focus point for the group in 2023.

High Point

The best game from the offensive line unfortunately came in a painful 30-28 loss to the Chargers in Week 5. Los Angeles never recorded a sack on Brissett, who passed for a respectable 230 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while the Browns' run game flourished for 214 yards, including 134 yards from Nick Chubb. Seven-time Pro Bowl edge linebacker Khalil Mack was held without a sack. 

Low Point

The offensive line's struggles in the adjustments of blocking for the mobile Watson were evident in the final game of the season in Pittsburgh, when the Browns allowed a season-high seven sacks. Four of them occurred on the last drive. The Browns were down 28-14 and didn't have enough time for a comeback but were still attempting to score, and the disappointing sequence added to the sting of ending the year with a loss against a divisional rival.

What They Said

"I don't know about two seasons in one, but there definitely is a distinct difference in it. You play with a guy like Jacoby, who was kind of the starting quarterback from the start of camp just with just the reps he got and all of the things that we got of him, and then Deshaun comes in and we understand how talented of a player he is. Different styles of play. The offense had to figure it out, and I think we are still figuring that out, but we got six games under our belt of what can work, what can't work and what we need to do better. It's something we will have all offseason to really figure it out." - Bitonio on if the 2022 campaign felt like having two seasons in one due to the transition at starting QB to Watson from Brissett

Who's Back for 2023?

LT Jedrick Wills Jr., Bitonio, Teller and RT Jack Conklin are all under contract for 2023. Conklin signed a four-year contract extension in December.

Who's a Potential Free Agent?

Pocic is the only starter from last season who could become an unrestricted free agent in March. T Chris Hubbard is also under the same status, and G Michael Dunn could become a restricted free agent.

2023 Outlook

The Browns should once again be able to boast one of the league's top offensive lines with most — if not all starters if they re-sign Pocic — set to return. The group, however, will need to hone in this offseason on the adjustments of playing with Watson to lessen its sack total and give the passing game its best chance to take a big leap.

Check out the best photos from the 2022 season by the Browns photo team