The Browns are widely considered to have one of the best left sides of an offensive line in the NFL, but I don't see us running left. Has anyone else noticed this? I see us running up the middle for 2 yards repeatedly and ineffectively with Lewis and Harrison, though Harrison should not be a between-the-tackles staple. Does anyone have any thoughts as to why we are not using Harrison or Davis or Cribbs to run left either by pitching the ball and running the sweep or by handing the ball off to that side or (novel idea) running a screen play? We have two plays: run it up the gut for 2 yards or the 5-yard slant that falls incomplete or gets batted down. It's no wonder DCs have no problem stacking 8 in the box on passing AND running downs; in fact, DCs don't even have to worry about out-patterns or the Browns running toward either sideline - DCs can just stack the box and focus all efforts on the middle. If we run, they stuff Jamal while he's still stutter-stepping; if we pass, there's pressure on Quinn almost immediately, and since he is or is made to be conservative with the ball, we can't punish defenses . . . yet.
Living in Chicago, our acquisition of St. Clair on the right side is especially disappointing because the guy jumped offsides on what seemed to be a good 1/4 of the plays on offense while he was with the Bears, and he can't pass block. I'm pleased he hasn't done the former so far with the Browns, but sadly, the latter - especially after this past week against Denver - is still apparently a part of his game. Tough to break old habits, I guess. I really can't believe that guy makes $3M per and starts in the NFL. Point being, our strength is the left side of that line, and we are underutilizing it and simultaneously not stretching out the field in the run or pass game.
I've been reading posts suggesting that the run game must produce in order for the passing game to have a chance and others claiming the opposite. (Brady Quinn thinks the former). Personally, I believe that's a chicken or egg sort of question. If - and this is a big if - the passing game (running game) starts to take hold, even marginally so that we convert , for example 33% of our third downs instead of our stunning and league-low 23%, the running game (passing game) won't face 8 in the box on every play, assuming we stretch the field sideline to sideline.
We're not as bad as this past week, especially defensively, but we cannot have our defense playing greater than half the game, as we've done in both of the first two games. The establishment of the run game means not just the marginal first down and the obvious continuation of a series; it means we rest our D lineman. Whether that begins with some effective passing or with some sideline to sideline running plays does not matter.
What I do know right now is that our 2 offensive plays and all variations thereof are currently not working, so some creativity would be welcome and probably more effective.