Cleveland Browns: Keys to victory against the San Diego Chargers

jgoehring
Dec 18, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) runs with the ball and is pursued by Buffalo Bills defensive end Leger Douzable (91) during the second half at New Era Field. Bills beat the Browns 33-13. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 18, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) runs with the ball and is pursued by Buffalo Bills defensive end Leger Douzable (91) during the second half at New Era Field. Bills beat the Browns 33-13. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dec 18, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell (34) runs with the ball during the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 18, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell (34) runs with the ball during the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /

Control the clock, shorten the game

The Chargers have surrendered the ninth-fewest yards on the ground thus far in 2016, and the Browns have struggled more than any other team running the ball. So naturally, it doesn’t seem like a logical key to emphasize the ground attack.

Since the Browns have a clear lack of talent, even when compared to a poor team like the Chargers, finding unique ways to remain competitive in games is their only hope. One simple strategy the Browns could implement on offense is a strong rushing attack which reverses several trends which have been detrimental in past weeks.

Running the ball would keep the linebackers more attentive to the line of scrimmage, opening up opportunities later through the air. Also, putting the ball on the ground more would help Cleveland control the clock, giving them a rare edge in time of possession. If they are successful in doing this, the defense will not need to be taxed as much, giving them a chance against a young San Diego offense which can move the ball.

Of course, all of this is dependent on the opening drive, and a reasonable amount of success in gaining yardage on the ground. Part of the reason that more than 70 percent of Cleveland’s plays this season have been designed passes is that they have been behind for the vast majority of every game.

When ahead, such as late in Week 4 against the Washington Redskins and early in Week 8 against the New York Jets, the running game runs much more smoothly. This is what the Browns need to try to replicate, trying to control the clock with Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson to give San Diego limited opportunities to put up points.

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