Last season, the Cleveland Browns were a very run-centric team. After the first two games this season, that doesn’t appear to have changed at all in the slightest. Nor should the Browns change their offense because they were able to ride that formula into the AFC Divisional Round against the Kansas City Chiefs last season.
So far this season, they’ve stuck with that formula. Had it not been for some self-inflicted wounds, it would have worked in Week 1 against the Chiefs at the scene of the crime, Arrowhead Stadium.
Then in Week 2, it didn’t feel like they really stuck with the formula. However, perhaps that’s due to Jarvis Landry getting injured early in the game. Cleveland had to change their game plan on the fly because the game plan they installed during the week didn’t take into consideration that Landry would get injured and be out for the remainder of the game. So in that regard, Cleveland gets a bit of a pass.
Regardless, the Browns need to evolve but not change their offense this season. Why?
Well, it’s because Cleveland’s opponents are going to know that the Browns want to establish the running game with the two-headed monster of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. If Cleveland is able to establish that run game, it allows them to establish the play-action passing game.
As a result, defenses are going to make adjustments in order to prevent the Browns from doing that. Opponents will look to force quarterback Baker Mayfield to beat them by doing straight dropback passes. So far, he hasn’t quite shown that he can do that.
This is why the Browns need to evolve but not change their offense. They drafted Anthony Schwartz out of Auburn to bring in another dimension to the offense. They kept Rashard Higgins instead of KhaDarel Hodge, maybe that was a mistake but that’s a different discussion for a different day. This is where the evolution needs to happen. Especially when Odell Beckham Jr comes back this week against the Chicago Bears.
The kind of evolution that I would like to see from the Browns offensively would be utilizing players like Schwartz and OBJ in plays such as wide receiver screens and jet sweeps. Both players have shown that they have a tremendous amount of speed, so Cleveland should use that to their advantage. We saw the Browns use OBJ in a couple of trick plays last season in their Week 4 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium aka “Jerry’s World”.
As stated earlier, Jarvis Landry got injured very early on in their game against Houston. So that forced the Browns to change their offensive gameplan completely on the fly, but what we saw is that Mayfield relied more on the tight ends: Harrison Bryant, David Njoku, and Austin Hooper. What I would like to see is perhaps a little bit more 13 personnel (which is simply three tight ends in a formation).
Again I’m not suggesting that the Browns need to stop running the ball and become a passing team. That’s clearly not what they are built to do.
So they need to stick with the run game and build the passing game off of that. However, they should add other wrinkles into the offense to keep their opponents off-balance.