Cleveland Browns: Offensive Line Key to Success in 2015


Aug 9, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas (73) against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

OK, so I’m the new guy here. This is my first piece writing for Dawg Pound Daily, so I want to give you guys something interesting to start off with.

Let’s go back in time a bit. Remember draft day? (No, not the movie.) The Cleveland Browns went ahead and took Florida State’s Swiss army knife offensive lineman, Cameron Erving. I paused for a second and scratched my head at this pick.

I didn’t think Erving was the best player available, even at his position. This selection brought me right back to the pick of Travis Frederick by the Dallas Cowboys just a few years prior. It wasn’t a sexy pick by any means, but it’s yet another potential long-term starter that fits a certain style of play.

Related: Joe Thomas at No. 25 on NFL’s Top 100 List

With the Cowboys strategy of building a rock solid offensive line through high draft choices, they’ve constructed one of the league’s best run offenses and protected quarterback Tony Romo better than anyone else.

After years of adding pieces to their offensive line, the Cowboys overcame a below average defensive unit and produced 12 wins leading to a division title in 2014. In a league dominated by superstar wide receivers and running backs at glamor positions, the offensive line is a group that could go unnoticed.

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I think this Cleveland organization can replicate what Dallas has done in the trenches. Every team is a product of their environment, and in the AFC North the weather dictates that certain style play I was talking about. For the past decade and beyond, teams like Pittsburgh and Baltimore have had tremendous success because of a great run game and a stout defense, which has helped to put their quarterbacks in better positions to succeed.

Third-down conversation rates are extremely important in sustaining drives and keeping a defense off the field. What people glide past is early down success rate. It’s almost like throwing a first-pitch strike in baseball. First and second down success setup the rest of the drive for success. The worst thing this Browns team could do is put either Johnny Manziel or Josh McCown in third and long situations, as the Browns already have a limited pass offense.

Related: Joel Bitonio tabbed as breakout player

With this Browns line featuring Pro Bowl fixtures like Joe Thomas and Alex Mack, younger players like Joel Bitonio and Erving can slot right in with little pressure. If this group plays up to its potential, this team could control games, and be a legitimate contender for a playoff spot in 2015.

Do you think the offensive line holds the key to the Browns’ success in 2015?

Next: Cleveland Browns: 3 Breakout Players to Watch for in 2015