The Browns play their home opener against the Houston Texans on Sunday, and will look to bounce back from their heart-breaking week one loss.
The Texans managed to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in week one, 37-21. That being said, the Browns are far superior and should put themselves in favorable situations.
Cleveland should strive to become a team that wins by creating mismatches. They have more talent than Houston, and there are a few matchups that look favorable a few days ahead of kickoff.
David Njoku, TE
Njoku was one of the best offensive players for the Browns in week one. He caught three passes for 76 yards and found ways to get open.
Njoku is also the best jump-ball option the Browns have on the roster right now. Those responsibilities would usually fall to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., but he was ruled out of Sunday's contest.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield has always had an affinity for Njoku, but in 2020 the Browns didn't have the personnel to create space for Njoku. There weren't enough receivers with legitimate speed that beat defenses downfield, so the opposition would crowd the box and take away Njoku.
That was not the case in week one. The Browns were able to utilize the entire field, and as a result, Njoku had a field day against Chiefs defenders. Houston doesn't have anyone that matches up particularly well with Njoku, so fans should expect more of the same.
At the moment, Njoku is the most dynamic tight end that the Browns have. He can create separation, but more importantly wins battles in traffic. He routinely plucks the ball out of the air with defenders draped over him, much like he did against the Chiefs midway through the second quarter.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah, WILL
Despite being up for most of the game, the Texans threw the ball 33 times against the Jaguars. The Browns should have an early lead on Sunday, which means Houston will have to play from behind and find success in the passing game.
If Houston is forced to throw the ball, Cleveland can do all sorts of creative things with Owusu-Koromoah. His speed will allow him to rush the passer because offensive linemen will have difficulty grabbing hold of him.
Owusu-Koromoah was solid against the Chiefs and should see even more snaps this week. Linebacker Mack Wilson is currently listed as the starter against base personnel, but he struggled against the Chiefs in week one. Particularly in the open field, Wilson struggled to bring down the ball carrier, and opponents routinely made him miss.
JOK has the closing speed and instincts required to make those kinds of plays for the Browns. He makes up ground quickly and usually finds the ball carrier, even if he is still a little weak at the point of contact.
Kansas City was a learning experience for him, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes did get the better of him several times. He should be very sharp against the Texans this week and could make a few plays early that change the game's tone.
His raw athleticism enabled him to make multiple plays in preseason that no other linebacker on the team could. He came up with a sack against Jacksonville where he lined up in A-gap, showed pressure all the way, and Jacksonville still couldn’t touch him.
Defensive coordinator Joe Woods has prioritized speed while building this defense. Everyone from the edge rushers to safeties can close ground quickly, and JOK is the most athletic option the Browns have at linebacker.
Greg Newsome II, CB
Newsome also experienced some growing pains against the Chiefs, but overall was impressive in his NFL debut. He didn't get burned over the top and tackled reasonably well.
The Texans have multiple receivers, namely Brandin Cooks and Chris Conley, that have elite speed. Newsome II thrives when he can turn his hips and make plays on the ball downfield and should see a few opportunities come his way.
Cleveland is very excited about his current standing and named him a starter opposite corner Denzel Ward against Kansas City. His play warranted the attention, and he could make a few big plays downfield to announce his presence to the Cleveland faithful.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor averaged over nine air yards per attempt against Jacksonville, good for sixth in the entire NFL. This Houston team tested Jacksonville downfield and should do the same thing against the Browns.
Taylor likely won't be throwing at Ward on Sunday. Newsome is untested, which means targets should come his way. At Northwestern he showed that he can handle these responsibilities, as he tracks the ball very well and has good ball skills.
Ward has been one of the better cover corners down the field since he entered the NFL, and if Newsome can do the same, the Browns will have one of the best corner duos in the entire league.