As the Cleveland Browns enjoy a day off after two padded practice days of training camp, it will be interesting how both sides of the ball perform moving forward. Generally, due to the lack of pads and hitting, the offense tended to show out early in camp. Over the last two days, the defense has started to cause problems for the offense now that the physicality has ramped up.

With the day off for the team, it is a good time to assess what we have seen so far and, perhaps, what could lay ahead for the offense and defense.

The offense has remained mostly healthy and has been sharp for the Browns in camp. While Odell Beckham Jr. (rehab plan) and Anthony Schwartz (injured related) have missed team drills, Baker Mayfield has continued to look crisp. Donovan Peoples-Jones has had a star-like training camp, standing out among his peers throughout.

The defense has been hit far more by injury issues as well as limitations to a number of players on rehab plans that have limited them. Only Anthony Walker’s injury is the lone one that will cost a player a week or more, at this point. Thankfully, rookie linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has returned from the COVID-19 list and should be fully practicing.

While the general consensus is that the Browns offense will carry the team in 2021 while the defense just needs to be an average defense, Cleveland has their sights set on more than that.

Last year, the Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Chargers and Indianapolis Colts all ranked in the top ten in yards per game on both offense and defense. The Browns offense was 16th in the league and their defense was 17th. While yards per game is only one metric to judge a unit by, can the Browns jump into the top ten in both?

The offense, which came on strong in the second half of the season, only missed the top ten by a total of 136 total yards for the season. With Beckham back and a year together in the Kevin Stefanski system, the offense is likely to exceed that goal easily.

It is the defense that remains a question mark. Last year, the defense was (surprisingly) only 240 total yards behind the top ten in yardage. With additions across the board, the team has reasonable hopes that they can improve by that number or more.

For another metric, the Browns offense was 14th in the league in points per game while the defense was 21st in the same category. With only 1.6 points per game margin between the Browns and tenth in scoring, moving up four spots is very realistic. For the defense, the margin is much larger at 3.6. For the Browns to reach top ten in scoring defense a large jump would be required.

If Cleveland’s defense can join Cleveland’s offense as a top ten unit, the team’s Super Bowl aspirations would be within reach. While the defense should show improvement as training camp gets more physical, what are realistic expectations given the turnover on that side of the ball?

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