The Cleveland Browns run game is taking over, and WRs are getting into it
In the Cleveland Browns two wins thus far in 2020, Cleveland’s rushing attack has been huge. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined for 32 rushes for 210 yards in a Week 2 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, and that fueled play-action looks for Baker Mayfield, one of which was a deep shot to Odell Beckham Jr.
In Week 3, Chubb, in particular, was his typical self, as DPD’s Cory Kinnan highlighted, and had 19 carries for 108 yards, to go with a pair of touchdowns. It was crucial that the Browns cashed in in a big way on five Washington turnovers, sure. But in a general sense, it’s been evident that Cleveland’s offensive success is going to stem from a really talented duo of backs and the offensive line and overall unit opening up chunk runs/passes off that as games progress.
Of course, Mayfield, who played a solid game in Week 3 when he was needed, on a few third downs, in particular, needs to make his share of plays. The Browns notable pass-catchers need to be involved week-to-week, too, obviously, to further aid the offensive output.
In any case, while the passing attack in Week 3 did not exactly light it up with Mayfield registering 156 yards, the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, and Austin Hooper did make their presences felt when needed enough as chain-movers.
Beckham had four grabs for 59 yards, one of which was a big third-down snag in the latter stages, Landry had four grabs for 36 yards, and Hooper had three catches for 25 yards. That included a much-needed first down on a fourth-down conversion in which Hooper made a Washington defender miss to pick up the needed yardage, which led to Cleveland’s opening score via field goal.
From there, Browns rookie tight end Harrison Bryant also got into the act by catching his first touchdown, too, and Hunt, in terms of receiving, had two catches for 18 yards and a TD.
Anyhow, what Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski had to say about noteworthy pass-catches in virtual media availability, though, jumped out involving the notable pass-catchers.
Stefanski giving kudos to Cleveland Browns pass-catchers for their blocking speaks volumes.
This was what Stefanski said about a group effort in the run game production in Cleveland’s past two games, which both resulted in W’s, via Browns.com’s Andrew Gribble.
"“The ground game takes 11 guys, like we have talked about before,” Stefanski said Monday. “I thought all those guys, and I would single out the receivers as well, Odell, KhaDarel (Hodge), Jarvis and all those guys blocking downfield.”"
Hodge, as Gribble noted, didn’t register a catch, but has been very effective as a blocker, and always makes an impact on special teams in a big way. Hodge also, as Gribble pointed out, tweeted out essentially how if him blocking is how he makes his presence felt leading to wins, “then that’s what it will be!”
From there, Stefanski was a big fan of Hooper/Bryant’s blocking efforts. In that realm, another soundbite from Stefanski’s media availability stood out, too, regarding Bryant/his enthusiasm in the blocking, and not just pass-catching, sense, as Gribble alluded to.
"“That tight end position is such a versatile role,” Stefanski said. “They have to be able to affect the pass game and the run game, showing a little emotion like he did there is always a good thing.”"
The kudos Stefanski gave to those mentioned Cleveland Browns pass-catchers speaks volumes, from my perspective.
For the Browns going forward, it’s apparent that they’re going to benefit greatly from establishing the run game with Chubb and Hunt, and then work off that from there. Hopefully, that will lead to deep shots to Beckham when those are there, and as the year progresses, ideally some more intermediate work for Hooper.
Landry will continue to be a reliable target for Mayfield as well, and we could seemingly see Bryant more involved in the red zone/potential medium yardage passing situations as a player feasibly matched up on linebackers a bunch.
We’ll have to see when it comes to Hodge being a viable target, but his buy-in is a positive. Albeit overall, while the target-share for Beckham, for instance, is evidently due for a decrease this season, the run game blocking efforts of key pass-catchers for Cleveland in these W’s has been admirable. And it’s nice to see Stefanski giving them their rightful credit for it.