Latest cryptic Myles Garrett comment makes valid point

Cleveland Browns, Myles Garrett. Mandatory Credit: David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports
Cleveland Browns, Myles Garrett. Mandatory Credit: David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cleveland Browns, Myles Garrett
Browns, Joe Woods. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

Joe Woods needs a reminder

Just in case anyone forgot, the Browns play in the AFC North. It’s a division that plays in cold weather. Thus, most teams in the division have put an emphasis on running the football as passing in cold weather is difficult.

The only exception in this division is the Cincinnati Bengals who are primarily a passing team due to quarterback Joe Burrow. They have built an offense around quick short passes leading to yards after the catch. The Browns are built to beat this type of team as evidenced by their recent matchup.

The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers are run-first teams. They look to establish the run and then pass off of it. This “old school” approach is really analytically driven as their chunk plays come off play-action or deep passes on single coverage.

If the division is primarily a running division, then why not build a team to win the division? Why not emphasize a strong run defense?

Analytics will tell you that the NFL is a passing league. This is true, effective passing wins games. That is worth repeating, passing the ball has a direct correlation to points. Thus, in abstraction, to win games, one would need to stop the opponent’s passing game. Hence, the Browns have built a defense to do just that.

The problem is games are not played in abstraction. Teams have strategies designed to open the passing game. For example, the Browns run zone plays to set up play-action. But if the running game is effective enough to win games, they will continue to run the ball.

The poster child for this style of play is the Ravens.  They would rather run the ball, control the clock and win the game 14-7 than have Lamar Jackson attempt to throw the ball all over the yard. But if a defense sells out to stop the run, they will throw the ball.

The opposite is also the case. If a defense sells out to stop the pass, the offense will run the ball. And it is here where the Joe Woods pass defense runs into problems. It is not designed to stop the run.