Keys to a win over the Cincinnati Bengals
It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes an offense to protect a quarterback. On Sunday, the Browns must realize this fact and implement the necessary means to ensure that Cody Kessler is spending less time on his back and more time in a secure pocket.
This doesn’t just mean that the offensive line needs to play better. Evidently, based on last week’s performance, they do. But it’s more than Cameron Erving, John Greco, Alvin Baily, Austin Pasztor, and Joe Thomas. The Browns need a collective effort to protect Kessler.
More specifically, the Browns’ coaching staff must do their part. This means, as the last key touches on, that the offensive game plan needs to be balanced, involving a competent and persistent rushing attack. When this is accomplished, Kessler will be protected because he is throwing the ball less, and because the plays are not so predictable. This prevents defenses from relentlessly going after the rookie knowing that the ball will be in his hands.
Of course, it still will be at times. When the coaches do put it in the hands of Kessler, they need to make sure there is a check down option, or that they intend on throwing short passes. This feeds off having a balanced offense, as running the ball effectively will keep the offense ahead of the sticks, making the throws generally shorter and quicker.
Once this is done, further balance is accomplished, opening up more opportunities for Kessler. This is when he can air it out to Terrelle Pryor, who is listed as probable, to put points on the board. Finishing drives is glamorous, but it is a long process which begins with protecting the quarterback, something that everyone plays a part in doing.