The Cleveland Browns defense last season both had its moments of excellence and moments of disappointments, which was very indicative of the Browns 6-10 season.
Of course, this being the Cleveland Browns there is a new defensive coordinator in Joe Woods for 2020.
Woods spent last season with the 49ers as their defensive backs coach and in 2017 and 18 was the defensive coordinator with Denver.
Woods will have a strong defensive line to work with as Myles Garrett leads a talented group that should be able to put pressure on the opposing passers, should they stay healthy which wasn't the case last season.
Myles Garrett was on his way to setting the team sack record before missing the final six games after bonking Pittsburgh's Mason Rudolph on the head with a helmet and Garrett signed the largest contract for a defender in the history of the game after he was allowed to return to the team.
Garrett seems prepared to have his best season and I have a feeling that this is the season that Myles Garrett makes the leap to the level of the dominant defenders in the league.
Olivier Vernon struggled through injuries in his first season in Cleveland and was rumored to be a salary-cap casualty in the off-season as the team pursued Jadeveon Clowney.
When a deal couldn't be agreed on with Clowney, the team decided to keep Vernon, and should he stay healthy, will give the Browns a viable alternative across from Garrett.
Veteran Adrian Clayborn was signed in free agency and should Clayborn be used in special pass-rush situations, I think can still be very effective.
Porter Gustin beat out former third-rounder Chad Thomas for a spot on the roster with an impressive training camp and should see time as a rotational player with the likelihood of replacing Olivier Vernon in the event of injury.
Joe Jackson was claimed on Waiver Sunday from Dallas and the second-year man completes the defensive end group.
Cleveland's defensive tackles are strong in the starting lineup with Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi.
Ogunjobi is entering a contract season, so this is a big season for him and Richardson was the Browns best defensive lineman last season.
Andrew Billings was signed in the offseason from the Bengals to provide depth but opted out of the season due to Covid-19.
Third rounder Jordan Elliott of Missouri is expected to step in and play early as a rookie and recent waiver claimee Vincent Taylor rounds out the corp as a veteran run stuffer.
The linebackers looked to be the weakest part of the defense after the Browns allowed Joe Schobert to leave via free agency to Jacksonville and the team didn't do a lot to address the bunch.
Mack Wilson looked to be the standout after a rookie year that showed occasional brilliance and the usual rookie mistakes, but a camp knee injury sidelined him for at least the first few games.
Wilson was fortunate after original projections thought he may miss the season.
Sione Takitaki will enter the starting lineup after being picked in the 3rd round in 2019.
Takitaki was thought to be a slight overdraft at the time and he didn't do much to change those thoughts as a rookie.
Still, he'll get a chance to change minds this season.
Veteran B.J. Goodson was signed from Green Bay as a free agent and should serve the purpose of a journeyman bridge.
Rookie Jacob Phillips will eventually move into the lineup after being selected in the third round from LSU, former Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith was signed during camp for depth and Tae Davis will be mainly seen on special teams.
This unit has plenty of things to prove if the Browns defense is to show improvement.
The Browns secondary figured to be improved with last year serving as a development year for young cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams and the drafting of LSU safety Grant Delpit in the second round.
Ward has been impressive in camp, but Williams has missed much of camp with a shoulder injury.
The duo has the talent to be among the best pair of corners in the game, but both have tended to battle nagging injuries and will need to play to their potential in order to so.
Former first-rounder Kevin Johnson was signed as a free agent to play the slot corner and was reported to have been playing well before a lacerated liver ended his camp and early portion of the season.
Johnson is expected to return sometime during the season.
Steady veteran Terrence Mitchell will start for Greedy Williams until Williams can return to the lineup and should Williams return before Johnson the versatile Mitchell will fill the vacancy left by Johnson's injury.
The Browns claimed 2018 second rounder M.J. Stewart off waivers from Tampa Bay and could see some time at slot corner and as an extra safety, where Stewart might play in the long run.
Tavierre Thomas is a special teams specialist that made the team as the final cornerback.
Cleveland signed two veteran safeties in the hope that they could turn around a weak positional group, but the drafting of Grant Delpit figured to be the big move in adding the playmaker from LSU once he broke into the lineup for good.
Delpit's training camp Achilles injury delays that plan until 2021, but former Raiders first-round pick Karl Joseph might be a bargain signing on a one year contract.
Joseph was having his best year with the then-Oakland Raiders and in week ten, Joseph intercepted Phillip Rivers to clinch a victory in the waning seconds.
However, that was all for Joseph, who injured his foot on the play and his season was over.
That might be fortunate for the Browns, who may not have had the chance to sign Joseph had the injury not occurred.
Veteran Andrew Sendejo was added from Minnesota to mentor Grant Delpit and perhaps start for a bit until Delpit earned a starting position, but will now have to hold the position longer if needed.
Hopefully, Ronnie Harrison can displace Sendejo on the field after being traded for late in camp from Jacksonville for a 2021 fifth-round pick.
Harrison started for the Jaguars in both of his seasons after being drafted in the third round in 2018.
2019 fourth-rounder Sheldrick Redwine is back for his second season as a backup at both safeties.
Cleveland carried two rookie kickers in 2019 and both return for 2020, but only one can feel safe in his position for now.
Austin Seibert was drafted in the fifth round last season and had positives and negatives as a rookie.
The good news for the Oklahoma Sooner was he hit 25 of 29 field-goal attempts, which is a strong percentage.
The bad news, Siebert was only one for five from over forty yards and missed five extra points, which is way too many!
The Browns signed veteran Cody Parkey, a one-time Brown, to the practice squad, and what Parkey does best is kick from long range, so if Seibert struggles early, look for a possible promotion for Parkey.
Punter Jamie Gillan averaged over 46 yards a punt and became a fan favorite for his willingness to get into scraps and make tackles.
Veteran Charlie Hughlett is back for another year as the long snapper.
Former Ram JoJo Natson was signed to be the main kick returner and the Browns hope to see Natson hold that job as Natson's return ability is what won him the final wide receiver spot over Damion Ratley.
Donovan Peoples-Jones will see time occasionally as a returner in kicks and punts and D'ernest Johnson will be the third player in the return game.
Now to the predictions.
Last year, I predicted 10-6 with the Browns finishing 6-10.
This team seems a little more solid with the best players returning other than Joe Schobert, but going into 2019, I was more enthused about Baker Mayfield than I am right now.
There are questions at linebacker and in the secondary, that will need to be answered and the depth will be tested early with the losses of Mack Wilson, Greedy Williams, and Kevin Johnson for the early portion of the season.
I think a .500 record is possible.
I think the ceiling for this team is 9-7, the floor is another 6-10 season.
The key games between the two records are these four- the week two and three games with the Bengals and Washington Red and Yellows both at home.
The Browns need to win both of those games, they may be favored, but they aren't slam dunk victories.
The other games to tell the tale will be the week seven rematch in Cincinnati and the 14th and 15th games which will see the Browns play back to back games in New Jersey against the Giants and Jets.
If the Browns manage to win four of these five games, I can see the Browns finishing 9-7.
That means winning three of those five on the road.
I'm going to say 7-9, although I'm close to saying 8-8.
I stated on Twitter recently that I thought 7-9 would be the record, so I'll stick to it...
Back later with the boxing challenge and the Browns visit to Baltimore, although I am unsure which will come first!