As summer training camps kick into gear this week, Pro Football Focus (PFF) has released its Team Power Rankings ahead of 2022.
All summer, the football analytics site has released its thoughts on various players and position groups.
And the Browns have often featured prominently.
And once again, PFF has some very nice things to say about the Lake Erie team.
PFF ranked the Browns No. 10 in its preseason power rankings.
The club was placed in the second tier, titled “Could Be Their Year” just under the top tier of “True Contenders.”
Further, the club finished second-highest in the division, with the slotting in a No. 8 and the Ravens at No. 11.
Here’s what the site had to say about Cleveland:
“So much of Cleveland’s success hinges on Deshaun Watson‘s availability, which remains completely up in the air as the NFL works toward the conclusion of its investigation into his sexual assault accusations. Even without Watson, the Browns should be a playoff team. They almost made it last season with Baker Mayfield playing from Week 2 on with a badly injured shoulder. A healthy Mayfield this season raises the floor a lot, and Watson for the entire season likely makes them real contenders.”
Did you notice how not a single other position was named in that blurb other than quarterback?
And it’s also entirely fair.
Everyone knows how much of a stud Myles Garrett is and about the loaded defensive secondary.
Most fans know about Amari Cooper and Nick Chubb’s dominance.
— Faithful Dawgs Podcast (@FDPodcastCLE) July 27, 2022
While some teams are ranked high because of their quarterback situation and little else (looking at you, Green Bay at No. 6), the Browns are the opposite.
The Browns are No. 10 despite an absolute trainwreck at quarterback.
Cleveland awaits word on a Watson punishment from NFL Disciplinary Sue Robinson, with NBC’s Mike Florio reporting that the team is expecting an eight-game suspension.
But that figure could be extended, depending on Commissioner Goodell’s final say.
It wouldn’t be shocking, considering the serious allegations against Watson.
And if Watson does miss half (or most) of the season as he should, somehow the Browns could still find themselves in playoff contention.
If just about any other team had undergone this self-inflicted wound, they’d be out of the playoff race entirely.
So the No. 10 ranking speaks more to the team around the quarterback than anything else.
Given how talented the team is, the Browns should ask themselves if all of this was worth it.
Was shipping off Mayfield in favor of Watson truly worth it?
Was giving him $230 million guaranteed worth it?
No. 10 represents the Browns’ floor, as PFF notes.
#Browns CB Denzel Ward rocking the white jerseys.
(Via Browns/IG) pic.twitter.com/KyUMqhB3t3
— Brad Stainbrook (@StainbrookNFL) July 26, 2022
They could certainly elevate with the decent quarterback play, but they likely won’t recede.
And as the PFF piece also notes, Mayfield could have certainly raised that floor.
Why go through with this gamble when you’re certainly not getting Mayfield back and might lose Watson for an entire season?
That’s even leaving alone the moral and ethical problems associated with the move.
The Browns could have found a way to compete this season without the specter of a crisis on their hands.