Welcome back to another edition of ‘The Super Bowl Race In The Perspective Of Chase’, a close to daily NFL article previewing your favorite teams season! The Las Vegas Raiders and the Cleveland Browns are two teams in a pretty similar position going into 2023. They were both postseason caliber teams with mediocre quarterbacks last season that missed the playoffs by a game or two. But with dominating players on each offense and each defense having, let’s just say talent, how competitive will these two teams be this coming year? Here is everything you need to know about the Las Vegas Raiders and Cleveland Browns going into 2023!
It has to be answered: How will Deshaun Watson play in his first full-season of football since 2020, and is Jimmy G going to play well outside of Kyle Shanahan’s system?
Last year, it looked like both of these teams could be competing for playoff spots. Instead, they finished with seven and six wins respectively. Derek Carr wasn’t a bad quarterback for Las Vegas–61% completion rate, over 3500 yards, 24 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 7.0 yards per attempt–but he also wasn’t good enough to lead this team to any success. It got the point where Jarred Stidham was playing meaningful time over him! For Cleveland, Deshaun Watson came in after his 11 game suspension and was below average, 58% completion rate, 7:5 TD-INT ratio, but before him in his place was Jacoby Brissett who completed 64% of his passes and ranked 6th in PFF rating among all quarterbacks. Overall, a main headline for Cleveland this season will be to see how Deshaun Watson plays, and if he goes back to his old self.
Las Vegas’ rushing game was led by Josh Jacobs who finally broke out into a superstar runner last year, leading the league in yards on the ground with 1,653 and added on 12 touchdowns. However, Nick Chubb for Cleveland may be the best running back in the game, as he ranked 3rd in the league in rushing yards with 1,525 and also 12 touchdowns with five yards per attempt. The main pass catchers for these two teams were newcomers for their respective clubs. Davante Adams for Las Vegas–1,516 yards and a league leading 14 touchdowns–and Amari Cooper for Cleveland, who totaled over 1100 yards and nine touchdowns last year.
Defensively, Cleveland had some studs including Myles Garrett and his 16.0 sacks, and we all know how good of a player he is. There is an argument to be made that Myles Garrett is the best defensive player in the game. But the Browns also had shut-down cornerback Denzel Ward with three interceptions and safety Grant Delpit with 105 tackles and four picks, a mark that was 11th in the league! For Las Vegas, Maxx Crosby and his 12.5 sacks and THIRTY SIX quarterback hits were incredible, and Chandler Jones and Rock Ya-Sin were also decent.
But overall neither of these two teams, despite the obvious top-tier talent, weren’t able to squeak into a postseason spot. So both teams knew they had to make moves. For Cleveland, after signing Watson to that hefty $230 million dollar, they had cut ties with Kareem Hunt but Chubb should be fine carrying the rushing attack. But Cleveland, outside of that, really didn’t do much this offseason, outside of trading decent draft capital for a project in Elijah Moore.
For Las Vegas, they let go of Derek Carr, replaced him with Jimmy Garoppolo, and signed Marcus Peters and Marcus Epps to add to the secondary but also let go of Anthony Averett and Rock Ya-Sin. Jimmy G will be interesting, because we’ve only seen him succeed under a system where every quarterback has succeed in San Francisco. And signing him to a three year deal may have been too much. Epps was a good pickup, but Peters on the field and off the field inconsistency may have not been worth getting rid of Ya-Sin and Averett for. Overall, considering they downgraded at quarterback, and outside of bringing in incredibly talented pass rusher Tyree Wilson at No. 7 overall, I don’t think Las Vegas got better this offseason.
So overall, for Cleveland, they’re relying on a Deshaun Watson bounce-back season. But how realistic is that? He was out of football for a year and a half, and who knows if he’ll ever be the same player!? Watson’s going to be a player to keep an eye in 2023. But for the Raiders, I’m not quite sure what they do. Unless Garoppolo turns out to be all that and a bag of chips, this team is not competing for a postseason position that is already tight as it is. And that makes you wonder the future of Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams long-term, and where they could be this time next year. Sometimes talent is everything in sports!
Prediction: The Browns go 8-9 and miss the playoffs, Las Vegas finishes 6-11 and drafts a quarterback in the 2024 Draft!
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