As the Browns exit their bye week and get ready to close out the season over the next seven games, what strategies should the coaching staff implement to "answer the call of duty" and turn some of these close losses to wins? Here are three strategies that I will quickly highlight, but feel free to share some of your own in the comments section.
Run the Ball More on 3rd Down: When I did my midseason review for the Browns' offense, I talked about the disparity with the playcalling on third down compared to the rest of the division. Cleveland runs the ball on 3rd-and-1 only 50 percent of the time, when that figure should be closer to 75 percent. They rarely run on 3rd-and-2. Cleveland needs to establish the ground game in these type of situations, and I'm praying that is a strategy the coaching staff worked on during the bye week.
Work in a Strong Rotation of the Defensive Tackles: For the first half of the season, rookie defensive tackles Billy Winn and John Hughes got a ton of reps. The intention all along were for the starters to be Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor, though. Both guys are returning this week, and I don't want the coaching staff to be too concerned about overworking them. At the same time, Hughes and Winn were drafted so there could be a healthy rotation. I'd love to see Rubin and Taylor each get 70 percent of the snaps, with Winn and Hughes getting the other 30 percent of the snaps. Much like when Joe Haden returned, this can have a trickle effect on the rest of the defense, including more one-on-one matchups for Jabaal Sheard, and more lanes for D'Qwell Jackson to shoot through to make a play.
- Getting Weeden to Pump Fake a Little More: There's no doubt that a lot of the Browns' drives have had momentum killed by defenders tipping Brandon Weeden's passes. Sometimes, you just have to deal with that happening in the NFL. There are various ways to lessen them, though, as members here have discussed before. I'd like to see Weeden do some more pump fakes to get these linemen off of their feet and back on the ground before Weeden delivers the actual throw.
Check out the trailer for Call of Duty, which is available now at Best Buy