It's almost time for Browns football again.
After waiting what seems like ages, we'll be able to see our team come out of the tunnel again this Sunday. I'm excited to watch the growth of second year players like Josh Gordon (ok, not for the first two games), Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson, Travis Benjamin, and Mitchell Schwartz. There are high hopes for our young offensive players, especially when you add post-Alonzo Mourning Greg Little and Jordan Cameron onto that list of names. And of course there is newcomer Davone Bess and a pair of backs we haven't even seen in Browns uniforms yet.
But the highest of expectations might be set on the shoulders of new offensive coaches Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner. Both bring a history of success with tight ends and offensive revivals in year 1 of their coaching stops. Both have been a part of deadly ground games as well, which is a trend that I hope continues (as long as Richardson can stay healthy).
I am particularly anxious to see if our coaches can do a better job of calling plays with a good chance to work. No team or player is going to make a living running into 9 man fronts, or passing into tight coverage with edge rushers who aren't worried about the run. Keep defenders honest and take the path of least resistance to the endzone: throw it where they aren't, run it where they aren't, and make the beginnings of your plays look the same. What legendary coach Homer Smith calls "effective faking" is they key to moving the ball and scoring points.
Shurmur at times displayed brilliant creativity and generated big plays with these concepts. But he seemed to set up the play-action pass by running the same run 15 times into the teeth of the defense for 2 yard gains. Or we'd see the same West Coast Offense pass plays 20 times before finally trying to pull the chair out from under the defense with an effective fake. It might seem like Shurmur NEVER did this, but here's proof he did (breakdown here, under "The Good--Passes):
The constraint plays were too few and far between under Shurmur. We'd invest so much of our gameplan into setting up these 1-2 plays per game that if they didn't work we were screwed (anyone remember Chris Ogbonnaya with a walk-in touchdown if Weeden can hit him last year?).
So here's to new beginnings. And here's to effective faking.