While the focus is often on the big things that happen in games that seem to directly impact a game, it is the smaller decisions that can lead to hidden yards that can make a huge impact. A penalty, not downing a punt, taking a delay of game to back up your punter, letting a player get out of bounds to stop the clock and more can help sway the outcome of a game.
For the Cleveland Browns, defeating the Los Angeles Chargers might take a lot of little things on top of Myles Garrett returning to the field with, perhaps, Jadeveon Clowney and Taven Bryan joining him.
One interesting place where the Browns could find some extra yards could be when kicking off. This year, the Chargers have returned just nine kickoffs but have averaged under 19 yards per return with a long return of 30 yards. Last week, the Houston Texans forced DeAndre Carter to return four kicks with none of the returns making it back to the 25-yard line:
The Texans (smartly) forced the Chargers to return 4 kickoffs this past Sunday. Deandre Carter gained: 15, 21, 15 (lost fumble), and 17 yards on those returns, didn’t make it back to the 25 on any. Something that other underdogs should be trying to replicate imo— Arjun Menon (@arjunmenon100) October 5, 2022
While the end result doesn’t seem huge, Los Angeles only scored on one of those four possessions. Outside of the lone field goal, the other possessions ended with a three-and-out, a six-play drive and the kickoff being fumbled.
Will it show up as a headline anywhere if the Chargers start most of their possessions inside of the 25-yard line? Probably not. Could it be a part of making things more difficult for the visitors, running more clock and putting more pressure on QB Justin Herbert? It could.
For Cleveland to win, focusing on every little detail will matter. On kickoffs, that could mean Cade York dropping the ball right at the goal line and the coverage unit doing their job to stop the returner quickly.