The Cleveland Browns struggles have been found all over the field. The offense, in general, has been good but has had times where it has bogged down or had a costly turnover. The defense, deservedly, has gotten a ton of negative attention with many calling for DC Joe Woods to be fired sooner rather than later.
Special teams have also been bad but, because of the nature of the unit, don’t get as much attention. The missed/blocked kicks and penalties are obviously problematic but even some decisions about whether to kick the ball into the endzone or take kickoffs out of the endzone have often turned out poorly.
Special teams are often overlooked outside of the kickers because of various players from both sides of the ball littering the unit. Generally, the unit gets a simple pass/fail grade outside of having an elite kicker like Justin Tucker or a return man that can still flip the field despite all of the rule changes.
While Woods’ name is often bandied about for the chopping block, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer also is in danger.
The film clearly shows a group that isn’t playing well. Looking at simple EPA data backs up what we all see while watching the game. Cleveland’s special teams are fourth worst overall and bad on both sides of kicking and defending:
Whatever the Browns value on special teams, Priefer’s units have failed. Some blame may be placed on GM Andrew Berry for continually changing players at the bottom of the roster who play on the unit. In the end, it is Priefer’s job to get appropriate production from his players.
Watching the game and data end us at the same place: Cleveland’s special teams are not good and Priefer joins Woods as coordinators who could be on the way out after the season or sooner.
Has Priefer’s special teams earned him a spot on the firing line along with Woods this offseason?