Is change in schemes playing a role in Cleveland Browns penalty issue?
The Cleveland Browns taking too many penalties is a clear issue, but is the change in schemes over the offseason playing a role?
The Cleveland Browns have many problems this season causing their 2-5 record. One of the biggest issues that have been a recurring theme is penalties. No matter how many times the team says they need to stop being called for penalties, the problem continues to arise during games.
In seven games this season, the Browns have been penalized 88 total times, which leads the league, according to NFLPenalties.com. The next closest team is Arizona with 86 total flags, but they have played two more games than Cleveland.
With the Browns being called for so many penalties on both sides of the ball, they are either putting themselves behind the chains or giving opponents free yardage and first downs on the offensive side of the ball. This makes it increasingly difficult for success on a given play and drive, leading to more losses.
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Most of Cleveland’s five losses have occurred because they cannot get out of their own way. The Browns have let teams come back in games or pull away because they cannot stop themselves from being called for penalties at critical times.
Many wonder why the Browns have been called for so many penalties, with most of the blame being put on the coaching staff and Freddie Kitchens. Teams become undisciplined typically because of the coaching staff not taking control of the situation.
However, the coaching staff may be responsible for the penalties in another aspect. On Monday, Browns safety Damarious Randall said the team may need to simplify the game plan so the players will not be thinking as much on game days.
Most of Cleveland’s penalties seem to be focus errors instead of a player making a bad decision during a play. Cleveland has been called for several false start and illegal formation penalties on the offensive side of the ball. The reason for so many of those penalties could be the players trying to grasp a difficult scheme from the coaching staff.
If the coaching staff has put too many intricacies into their schemes, then the players are going to have to think about their concepts more before the play. And because they are thinking so much about their responsibility prior to the play, they are not as focused on the snap count or where they are lined up, giving themselves a greater chance of being called for penalties.
The Browns are playing in new schemes on both sides of the ball, even though the offense is likely only slightly different from the end of last year. Both the offense and defense are playing in different systems than they were last year in some way, so they still may not be completely comfortable with their responsibilities on a given play. And if the systems have many concepts that is making it hard for the players to grasp each and every one, then they are going to be thinking more on the field instead of reacting naturally to a play.
There are likely many reasons for the Browns having the issue of too many penalties, but Randall saying the Browns may need to simplify things is telling. If the coaching staff is putting too much on the players to where they can’t play without overthinking their responsibilities, then they are not putting them in the best position to win.
No matter what, the Browns need to fix the penalties if they want to turn their season around during the second half of the year. Whether it be the coaches simplifying the game plans or the players feeling more comfortable with the systems, something needs to change immediately.