Trying to define the Cleveland Browns 2022 season is a bit tricky. The cold, hard fact is that the team is 7-10. If that was all you cared about, you wouldn’t be reading this article, creating community in our comment section or following along on social media.
Were the Browns a 7-10 team that was a couple of (bonehead) plays away from being a playoff team or were they a 7-10 team that is at best mediocre?
Another question that GM Andrew Berry and HC Kevin Stefanski will have to answer is where to use their limited resources this offseason. Berry can create significant salary cap space and has eight draft picks to work with but which side of the ball does he prioritize?
Fans and media, and probably Cleveland’s front office, will agree that the team’s biggest needs are on the defensive side of the ball. Particularly, up the middle starting with defensive tackles.
While the need is on that side of the ball, how important is a good defense? We know that the NFL wants an offensive league but this chart shows that the four teams competing for conference championships were great on offense and mostly good on defense:
The offensive and defensive regular season EPA/play of the teams playing in the conference championships this weekend— SumerSports (@sumersports) January 24, 2023
Every team has a top-5 offense and every team besides the Chiefs has a top-8 defense pic.twitter.com/6DJeGrJBoG
Obviously, we know the results of both the conference championship games and the Super Bowl with the offensively great and defensively adequate Kansas City Chiefs taking home the title.
Looking at the data, Cleveland was surprisingly adequate on defense and a little lower on offense. Watson’s rusty return and the limitations of Jacoby Brissett certainly played a huge role in that.
Offense is obviously vital to true success in the NFL right now but, based on the teams in the top right quadrant, defense still matters. Should Berry and company take this information and try to have a balanced approach this offseason, focus on the known need at defense or take the Chiefs approach to go all in on the offensive side of the ball?