Cleveland Browns using power run to neutralize outside linebackers
By Joel W. Cade
The AFC North is the best division in football. Despite its reputation as a running division, the AFC North is primarily a passing division as, despite the weather conditions, two of the division’s four teams finished in the top 10 in the league in passing in 2015, and three of the teams placed in the top half.
It is a different story when it comes to the running game. Only one team placed in the top half of the league in rushing, the Cincinnati Bengals. Yet, only one team in the AFC North fits the mold of Sobleski’s passing offensive line.
That team? The 2015 Cleveland Browns. They boasted Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz, both excellent pass blockers. The line was built with athletic players who excel in pass blocking: Alex Mack, Joel Bitonio and John Greco. According to the pass first logic, the Browns should have dominated the AFC North. Instead, they posted the worst pass and rushing numbers of the division.
What are other teams doing differently than the Browns? What do the other teams know that the Browns have not figured out? It comes down to a simple question: How to win in a league dominated by Lawrence Taylor-type pass rushers? Answer: Utilize a power run offense.
The teams with the best passing numbers in the AFC North primarily used a power run scheme.
Next: The return of the power run