Cleveland Browns Offensive Mid-Season Awards….

The Cleveland Browns are halfway through the 2023 season, so our Browns Digest staff decided to do a roundtable discussion to hand out some mid-season awards. It’s obviously been a bumpy ride so far, with injuries in a number of critical positions. But Cleveland is two games over .500 and would be in the playoffs if the post-season started this week.

We will also pick our defensive, special teams and coaching awards as the week unfolds.

Has anyone ever picked an offensive lineman as the team’s Most Valuable Player? If not, I will gladly be the first. Think about how the season has gone for the 5-3 Browns so far and all of the injuries they’ve suffered at key positions. I don’t care who is playing quarterback or running back, having both of your season-opening starting offensive tackles on Injured Reserve is brutal.

Big Thanos is a rookie from Ohio State and is playing at a borderline Pro Bowl level right now. There are exceptionally few teams around the league that have true depth on the offensive line. Jones has given Kevin Stefanski’s offense a chance to have some stability during a season where it’s been hard to keep the same guys on the field each week.

Is it a cop out to choose an entire group rather than one specific player? Maybe. Thing is, the Browns haven’t had any sort of consistency under center, they lost the heart and soul of the team in Nick Chubb seven weeks ago, and somehow they’ve managed to get to two games above .500. Even without Chubb, Cleveland’s run game is third best in the NFL, averaging 144.1 yards per game. None of this is possible without the consistent play from a banged up offensive line.

The success at wide receiver is predicated pretty much exclusively on quarterback play. For the Browns, the quarterback has been the most inconsistent position with starts from Deshaun Watson, Dorian Thompson-Robinson and PJ Walker. The staple for each of those three guys has been No. 2.

Entering Week 10, Amari Cooper is ranked 12th in the NFL with 617 yards. More importantly, in the past two weeks, he has accounted for 228 yards which is second best in the NFL. He has become Mr. Reliable for the Browns and is my Mid-Season MVP.

With all the twists and turns that have happened at QB, Cooper has been the anchor the Browns have absolutely needed in the pass game. He was the entire passing offense when the Browns started P.J. Walker and stunned the 49ers, and he was immense in helping Watson ease back into life under center a week ago when he totaled 139 yards. The Browns passing offense might be dead last in the league without him.

The flesh is weak. We’ve heard those words a couple times from the Browns starting tight end this year, especially after suffering critical burns to his hands and face. But he has showcased a toughness that most people can’t quite comprehend and never missed a game. Njoku has 32 catches for 319 yards and two scores this season, but I think his impact has gone far beyond his statistical production.

Hunt was a depreciating asset in the eyes of most team’s scouting departments – including the Browns. But when Nick Chubb went down with a season ending knee injury, the stars aligned and Hunt was a natural addition to help ease the pain. His numbers aren’t eye-popping (60 carries for 196 yards). His five touchdowns over the last four games though have been impactful. Oh, plus, he seems to have a refreshing attitude to the his second stint with the Browns that is resonating in the locker room.

Pocic came to the rescue last season when Nick Harris went down with a season-ending injury on the first play of the preseason. He put together a great 2022 campaign and entered this year in a battle for the position again with Nick Harris and new draft pick Luke Wypler.

He never flinched and has been a steady piece amongst all of the chaos that has occurred with the Browns offense. The offensive line is down its starting right tackle for the entire season, is missing the left tackle for at least the next four weeks, and has missed a game with their future Hall-of-Fame guard. Pocic has held the center position down and is playing very well.


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