The Cleveland Browns are 2 - 4, old employees are writing about the terrible defensive schemes related to gap integrity and there is a game to play today. Not unlike most seasons, Browns fans are starting to think NFL Draft and new people in power.
A win last week and the narrative this week would have been significantly different. A win this week, getting the team to 3 - 4 and against a team with a losing record, would be nice but can it change the narrative around the team? Most fans, and almost all of the local media, are likely to still focus on the negative.
But not today. Today, there are reasons for hope that the Browns can pull out a victory and move the needle in more a positive way.
Even with all the gnashing of teeth this offseason, and the constant calls for Johnny Manziel to start, the Browns offense has been good. This is especially true of the passing offense which ranks 9th in the league in yards, matching their ranking in Total Offensive Yardage. The offense has also converted third downs at a very high level, tied for 2nd most in the league.
New Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo has put the Browns offense in position to make plays and keep the team in games.
Along with the stats, the Browns offense has unveiled three weapons that are exciting and consistent. Travis Benjamin has become a complete receiver. He is setting up defenders, making great cuts and catches most everything. While not the largest receiver, if the corner plays off he goes on a quick slant. If the corner plays tight, Benjamin is adept at getting off bump coverage and beating them deep.
Gary Barnidge is not a complete tight end but he is a deadly offensive weapon. He makes plays over the middle, on third down and in the redzone. He is big but also has enough speed and quickness to make defenses pay in a variety of ways. Flip is putting Barnidge in position and QB Josh McCown is making the most of it.
Rookie Duke Johnson has been exciting both running the ball and catching passes out of the backfield. The rookie has shown to be a complete back. He runs both inside and out, shows the great hands we all heard of and is a TD waiting to happen. Johnson has to stay healthy but looks like a RB weapon for years to come.
Another reason for hope is the opponent the Browns play today. The Rams have the worst statistical offense in football. They have gained 700 yards less than the Browns and more than 600 less than the middle of the pack teams. Their pass offense doesn't even have 1,000 yards through 5 games (916). QB Nick Foles has 6 TDs to 5 INTs and isn't being trusted by the Rams to have the ball in his hands. They have only allowed him to throw the ball 141 times, compared to 121 for McCown in just over 4 games.
The Browns can load up to stop the run and take advantage of Foles and the passing game.
Rams Run Defense
While the Browns offense has looked better than expected, the run game hasn't performed up to expectations. While the Rams defense is feared, their run defense is ranked 21st overall. They are giving up over 113 yards on average per game. They give the Browns a chance to get their run game going to compliment the exciting passing game.
Flip has shown an ability and willingness to change the game plan to take advantage of the opponent. Expect the Browns to do so today and attack the Rams on the ground. My hope is they do more running out of spread formations and passing out of jumbo ones, a change to what they have been doing.
What gives you reasons for hope for today's Browns Vs Rams game?