Cleveland Browns: 5 keys to the home opener vs. Ravens
The most important key for the Browns offensively in the home opener does not apply to any of the 11 players on Cleveland’s offense. Equally important to a bounce back performance is head coach Hue Jackson.
The highly touted offensive expert called an atrocious game last Sunday, mostly because of his predictable play calling. Of the Browns’ 50 total plays, 29 were passing plays and 21 were rushing. While this doesn’t seem inherently lopsided or predictable, the manner by which these plays were called placed the offense in extremely difficult down-and-distance situations time and time again.
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Jackson would often dial-up a deep ball on a post route or a deep crossing route to either Corey Coleman or Terrelle Pryor on first down, which usually resulted in an incompletion. On second down, Jackson would realize that it was time for a running play, which would be stuffed since the defense saw it coming. On third-and-long, it was an obvious passing situation. Too many three-and-outs resulted from this horrendous play calling.
This week, Jackson needs to recognize his flaws in Week 1, and use different formations on different downs to confuse the defense, rather than bizarre play calls. He also needs to utilize his running backs more, who were never given a legitimate chance to succeed last week. Look for Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson to be more involved on first down, even if they are being used as receiving options.
The Browns really don’t have a choice with a less mobile quarterback. They must absolutely get their running game going. If this is successful, they will find themselves using their running backs even more, as third down situations won’t be quite as predictable. This is when the playbook opens up, and Coleman and Pryor have even better opportunities to shine down the field than they did last week.
It all starts with play calling, and if Jackson can get it right this week, fans will witness a domino effect that will stimulate Cleveland’s offense.
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