The Cleveland Browns were one of the surprising stories of the 2020 NFL season.
They finished 11-5 and advanced to the Divisional playoffs only to be defeated by the eventual AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs.
During the offseason, the team improved the roster with smart free agent and draft selections particularly on the defensive side of the ball, a weakness in 2020.
Expectations are now very high for the Browns as they enter 2021.
Advancing deep into the playoffs and potentially to the Super Bowl is possible for a city and franchise that has not experienced anything of the sort in decades.
In spite of all of this, here are three reasons why the Browns cannot win the Super Bowl in 2021.
3. Superstar Roster Doesn’t Gel
The Browns roster is loaded for 2021.
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) May 31, 2021
Offensively, the roster is largely unchanged from 2020.
This talent combined with Myles Garrett should flourish and shut down opposing offenses.
However, there is the possibility that the defensive roster may not gel or play as well together as expected.
If that happens, it could severely hamper the Browns’ Super Bowl ambitions.
2. Stefanski’s Sophomore Slump
Kevin Stefanski is the reigning NFL Coach of the Year because he led an improbable 2020 squad in the middle of a pandemic.
What if he has a sophomore slump?
He is the team’s offensive play-caller.
His slump could come by way of being too predictable in play-calling so teams can figure out how to stop the Browns offense.
Last season, Mayfield hinted that the play-calling formula included doing things that work until teams can stop them.
#Browns QB Baker Mayfield on Kevin Stefanski as a play-caller: "Smooth operator. Right now, we're continuing to call things that are working until teams can prove they can stop it. We're going to pound the rock, create matchups on the outside and take advantage of that."
— Keith Britton (@KeithBritton86) October 7, 2020
What would the Browns look like if the opponents stack the box and stop the run over and over?
Can Stefanski overcome that by being creative and mixing things up?
Stefanski has the expectations (and stress) of a city and franchise on his shoulders.
How well he manages those outside forces and the team remains to be seen.
#Browns coach Kevin Stefanski was asked if he’s concerned the club is falling behind other teams that are holding OTAs with better attendance. Stefanski said he’s concerned about the Cleveland Browns every day
— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) June 2, 2021
This is an unfortunate part of football that no one can foresee or control.
The most talented teams can be decimated with significant (season-ending) injuries among their star players.
Teams with depth can sometimes overcome these injuries.
Last season, the Browns had a lot of injuries on both sides of the ball.
They were able to advance with their adopted “next man up” mentality which carried them very far in the postseason.
The addition of an extra regular season game, going from 16 to 17, will have an effect that is yet to be known on all teams including the Browns.
If the Browns suffer from injuries of key players, that puts the Super Bowl bid in serious jeopardy.
The Browns open their season on September 12 against the Chiefs, so NFL fans will get a good idea of how good this Cleveland team is right away in Week 1.